Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hey, Check out the website for Aspinwall Pictures, and continue seeing what this unique horror company has in the works right now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Whoa actors!

I'll have over 1,000 submissions by this time tomorrow. Got actors coming out the woodwork!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Actors Everywhere

Got over 100 actors submissions since my casting breakdown got approved by one of the websites in only 12 hours.

Hoping to get more submissions for the lead role. But that one is going to be more difficult because she has to be Latina and speak Spanish. That narrows the acting pool way down.

Will start officially auditioning actors next week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

One Step Closer to Location

There are two big locations that I'm trying desperately to get. I've taken a great step towards one of them today thanks to some great work from my location manager. The script calls for a concert scene and at this location, a few scenes will need to be shot. The setup of the show, the actual show, the crowd boogeying down, and finally, the agent speaking to one of the members of the band.

Let's just say it's not easy to get a place like that for cheap. Using some of my location managers connections, she's put me in touch with someone who can get the deal made. She said it was a good possibility that we could shoot there on two conditions:

1. We shoot on a slow week night at the restaurant. Therefore, when I bring my cast of anywhere between 20 and 50 people, my crew will be spending money on alcohol and food and having a good time during the show. Thus, the restaurant will stand to make a profit on a slow night.

2. The head honcho at the restaurant needs to like the band's music.

I've sent them a link to the music of Allah Las and told them the date we'd like to shoot (Allah Las goes on tour mid April, so we have to shoot before that).

My fate lies in the hands of the musical talent of Allah Las. Keep your fingers crossed, boys and girls.


This is the part where I contact my casting director and tell her to find me some A-List celebrities to make my movie great. Insert Picture of Great Actor Below:

Oh wait, that costs money. Let's see how this really works.

After creating the script, I can now create a casting breakdown. This includes a bio of each character, age, nationality, race, shoe size, favorite color, favorite food to eat, gum to chew, hobbies on the weekend, whatever. Anything you want potential actors to know for auditions/submissions, you put in the breakdown.

For a low budget project like this, you have to find creative ways to get good actors. After exhausting all your connections, and butchering all friendships by forcing people to be in your movie (you know who you are), you go to the glorious internet.

Online are many useful, FREE casting websites in which you enter your breakdowns and then offer a date/time for casting calls.

How good are these websites you ask? I'll let you know in a few weeks.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Successful Day

Overall, it was a successful day. I finished the next draft of the script and sent it out to some more of my readers.

On the business side of things, I've begun the opening paperwork to create an LLC for the film.

Will start the paperwork for SAG on Monday. They have a very old fax machine that all the new film submissions go to. They have not updated into the 21st century yet. You can't scan and email forms to SAG. You still have to fax. Easy to work with? Hmmm...

SAG...Round 2

Getting to sit in the James Cagney Room at the Screen Actor's Guild was quite a luxury. The workshop, however, was not. Yes, they were informative, and yes they answered as many questions as possible before we got kicked out of the Cagney Room.

But you know what? When they happily tell you that their motto is "Easy to work with, tough to fight," my initial reaction was WTF.

I fully understand the whole concept behind SAG, but I just wish they didn't take all your money and sing Tra La La the whole time they did it.

Nevertheless, the workshop is a useful tool to realize just how much bullshit goes into legally filming a short, a feature, or anything new media.

My condolences to anyone like myself who for some reason, feels obligated to play by the rules.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Screen Actor's Guild - Not just an award's show

Heading to a SAG (Screen Actor's Guild) workshop tonight. For those who don't know, SAG is an American labor union representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide.

If you want good actors for your film, you have to go through SAG. Yes, you can find good non-union actors now and again, but overall, SAG is where it's at. And with SAG comes a lot of paperwork, and rules and regulations that I'm going to need to know like the back of my hand.

This implies anything from how long an actor can work, whether or not they get a trailer, first class flight or coach, etc, do they get paid for days off between shoot days, etc.

Because I'm dealing with such a small budget, it's important that I know exactly what I'm going to pay and when I need to pay it. Can't have any hidden fees popping up on me in any department (they always do). Thus, the importance of the SAG workshop tonight, which is a free 2 hour class that goes through everything I'll need to know to get actors.

Let's hope I learn a thing or two.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Props & Location Scout

Currently searching for locations to have demons torture humans for my film.

Stopped by a really cool store, "Hidden Treasures" and picked up perhaps the two most important props of the film. Stoked at how easy it was. And cheap too!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Demon Makeup

In a martial arts film, you damn well better have a great fight choreographer. In a horror film, it's all about the makeup. There's nothing worse than finally revealing what your creature looks like and then realizing it's downright laughable.

SPOILER ALERT: Think M. Night's "Signs" with our favorite lunatic Mel Gibson. I think it's a great drama, not a horror film at all (which is one reason I think so many people hated it). The first reveal of the aliens was perfect. Remember the little video that Joaquin Phoenix watched of a birthday party and then the alien quickly walking by? Perfect.

Then Night butchers his entire movie with that retarded CGI alien at the end of the film. Downright laughable. Totally took you out of the whole finale.

SPOILER ALERT: Now think about films like "The Exorcist" and the Pazuzu demon. Scary ass shit. From Reagan's transformation to the white-faced Pazuzu. More recently, look at Ti West's "House of the Devil" and tell me the reveal of the Satanic creature isn't perfect. Again, he teases you with a side shot at first, and you can't help but ask yourself, what did I just see?

Makeup, can make or break a horror film. This includes blood spilling out of heads from a gunshot wound, or the pouring of blood out of one's slit throat. Sometimes less is more, but sometimes, more really kicks ass.

And the search for a makeup artist begins...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm Back

Sometimes I find myself wondering, "Am I really going to make this movie?" I've been away from the blogging for quite some time now, and have received numerous complaints from people.

Well, I'm back, and yes I'm definitely going to make this movie. Perhaps it won't meet the beauty and grace of the beloved "Wrong Turn" franchise, but damnit, I'm gonna have a go at it regardless. All I can say is, watch out Dushku, Boogeyman 3, Saw 75, The Grudge 40, Final Destination 3D times 50, and Chucky reboot (actually I'm always okay with another Chucky movie). Watch out.

The script continues to go through mini rewrites. I'll be getting "The Devil's Playpen" to multiple producers and fellow writers this week. From my perspective, each of these readers will see things from different angles than I'm used to seeing. The script could get the shit kicked out of it this week, but in the end, all criticism can only make "The Devil's Playpen" better.

Let me close this post with a scene from The Shining. I know all writer's have felt like this at some time or another. Jack Nicholson is our voice, for now and forever.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ready for Readers

I’m all about blessings in disguise.

It’s been pure Hell trying to get to Madrid, Spain. From trying to close up loose ends on the job front to getting delayed four hours at Washington/Dulles International Airport, things were getting tough. Not as tough as William Shatner's plane moment though.

I was looking forward to having 13 hours to myself to read and write. And as passengers of United Flight 4963 started bickering at the staff, I was busy revising my first draft, with Danny Elfman’s “Sleepy Hollow” soundtrack zoning out the mayhem. Instead of 13 hours, I had more like 17.

I can happily say the script is ready to go out to my first round of readers as soon as I return to the United States. Those extra hours were indeed, a blessing. But first, a little celebrating in Spain.

Can’t wait to get feedback from the ones I trust. Sometimes there’s compliments, and sometimes there’s criticism. Either way, I look forward to their insight to make the script better.

Time for a little quiet, reading. Erik Larson’s “Devil in the White City.”
This was written on the plane, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily, no Gremlins were spotted.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Madrid Macabre

Thought you all would enjoy a nice little story from Madrid. Amidst the crowded streets of downtown, my friends and I tried to navigate through the busy pedestrian traffic, heading towards the Plaza Mayor.

In a smaller, less crowded alley, there were two ugly masks.Of course, being a lover for all things creepy, I had to take a picture of it. Other people were looking at it as well, wondering why there were two masks just sitting on a table. There was no one looking for money with the masks, or no cup to put money into...simply two masks on a table.

Many people looked, but I was the only one who took a picture. Afterwards, I started walking down the alley and I felt like people were looking at me and I couldn't understand why. A few steps more, and then I was convinced, everyone WAS staring at me.
My first thought was, "What, you've never seen an American before?" But in actuality, they had probably never seen an American walking down an alley with a gigantic person in one of the masks stalking me from behind with a gigantic axe in his hand, looming over my head.

Yes, I did indeed tip the monster. He must have followed me for about 30 paces, and I was oblivious!

I naturally did the only thing I could...tipped him and then changed my underwear.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Madrid, Spain

Heading to Spain first thing tomorrow morning. That's a lot of travel time to focus on the script. Can't wait.

Talk soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


There's a fine balance between religion and folklore in "The Devil's Forest." The female lead carries a cross around her neck at all the times, and frequently goes to church as well. Although her life is surrounded by Mexican folklore, she is firmly based in Christianity.

Been recently searching for the perfect church she would go to every Sunday. As the character lives in a run down area of Los Angeles, I want the church to have the same feel. It might be a little shabby, and dirty, and not the typical structure of an average church across the nation, but at the same time, to the female lead, it still feels like home to her.

In my search for these type of churches, I took a couple quick photos of a few. Most of them were done with my blackberry while driving so they aren't the best quality. If anyone knows of any of these types of churches, please let me know.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Abandoned House Dilemma

The abandoned house that I really love is having difficulties coming into fruition. It's actually on California State Park land, and dealing with that is never easy.

First off, the house has been deemed hazardous, meaning they won't let anyone go in there for safety purposes. Although no one will be falling through any floors or anything like that, they say it's unsafe and therefore you are not allowed to shoot interiors there.

Frankly, it's a whole lot of bullshit.

They still might be able to allow me to do Exterior shots of the abandoned house but here's the catch. After purchasing a permit, I also have to pay a Ranger to sit on his butt and watch us operate to ensure we don't harm the land. Rangers make a solid $79 bucks an hour to simply observe. Anyone interested in a new profession?

It's a total drag because I love the inside of that house, but at the same time, this could be a blessing in disguise. Maybe I find another old, creepy house that's far superior to this one.

My location manager had me look up an old, abandoned motel that could be very fun to work with that's not too far away. Time will tell.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Latino Land Halloween

Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, Halloween was always amazing in its cliched simplicity. It was a veritable checklist of typical fun:

Drawing Haunted Houses
Horror Movies
Scary Music
Carving Pumpkins
Eggs Selling out in Grocery Stores
Trick or Treating

In the suburbs, you'd find a nice neighborhood away from the main streets where cars never really drive through, and ghosts and goblins could roam free without a worry in the world. You had your one house that other kids dared you to go near, and you had an abundance of families who really went the extra mile with decorations and spooky devices to scare the pants off you. As I said, it was a lovely mix of cliches, wrapped into one night, different than any other day.

But Latino Land in Los Angeles is different.

In the city, it seems the last place you'd want to go to is a quiet neighborhood. Who knows what lurks behind the dark, chain-linked fences? There's so many weirdos in the city, I'd be afraid to knock on any stranger's door. And with the high amounts of apartment complexes that you can't enter, where are kids supposed to get their candy from?

Cue the local businesses.

It's a bizarre experience to see five year old Darth Vaders walking into a bakery (panaderia), the butcher shop (carniceria), and even liquor stores (needs no translation). Never in a million years would I expect to walk into a Taco Bell to get free candy. You might say, this isn't just Latino Land, this is what happens in all cities. Frankly, I don't know. Los Angeles is the only city I've experienced the trick or treating of Halloween.

What adds to the glorious mayhem of a Latino Land Halloween is that you have the Day of the Dead lurking in the shadows. Just a few days away from Halloween, El Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of those family members and friends who have passed on. While more traditional Caucasian grieving seems to be done on a more personal scale, it's the exact opposite in the Latino culture.

Honoring the dead is important in every culture. For me, a small town kid growing up 3000 miles from these Latino traditions, being able to see how they honor the dead still mesmerizes me every year.

In graveyards, Latinos build huge altars filled with personal belongings, favorite food and music, etc. of the deceased. Large parades travel through the streets and end in cemeteries. Every festival, every party, every gathering, for El Dia de Los Muertos is for one thing and one thing bring back the dead!

Where a majority of the white culture honors the dead with thoughts and prayers, the Latinos extend this into a world most whites can't comprehend. The Latinos don't just honor the dead. They hope to see and speak with them again.

And this is where Latino Land Halloween differs from other cities. Walking through some of the less crowded streets, many of the Latino households are already attempting to guide the spirits of lost loved ones home. For example:

Multiple houses with stairs leading to their front door would have small candles on each step, lighting the way for any souls who need help finding their way home. These candles are anything but mere decorations. In fact, on the night of the Day of the Dead, when families sit down to have their dinner, they cook and set an extra plate of food for when the deceased comes home. Toys are bought if they expect dead children to return, and alcohol for adults.

For me, this is the difference. That's an extra step I could never take in honoring the dead.

Ever since first seeing a the Latino culture, it's always fascinated me. After all, "The Devil's Forest" involves Mexican folklore throughout the entire script. I've always toyed with the idea of doing a sort of "Mexican Trilogy." The first film would be about La Chupacabra. The second is La Llorona, and finally, the third involves El Diablo. But now I really love the idea of those who die in "The Devil's Forest" to return through one of these Day of the Dead celebrations in a sequel.

Imagine sitting down at the dinner table with your family, with that one spot left open for a soul to join you. You say your prayer, then begin to eat. All of a sudden, you get cold, you start to see your breath come out of your mouth, and as you look to your left, you see SOMETHING forming. You hope it's that little brother, or son coming back for one more meal to share. Instead, as it take shape, you realize it's not your son or brother at all, it's something else. Something that never should have come back. Its features are hideous, the stench is overwhelming, the bones protrude from its gooey, leftover skin.

And as you sit there, wondering what you should do, you realize it's already too late. The human-like shape attacks with malice.

How many times do I have to point out in this blog that "Sometimes, dead is better"?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dreams, etc.

"Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.” - Sigmund Freud

Met with an actor this week to discuss "The Devil's Forest." What I learned most from it was this...finish editing the script! As helpful as it was to talk about the script, it's a lot better when it's not a one sided conversation. The entire time we sat there, I only wished he had already read the script. Hopefully, I sparked an interest in the stories I told him.

The meeting also made me want to have a reading of the script ASAP to hear how the dialogue sounds when actually spoken as opposed to how it sounds in my head.

However, the discussion did lead me to have a dream about the film. I did not have an opening for "The Devil's Forest" that I was happy with...until this week. It's good to know my film is in my subconscious. Not only did it give me an idea for the opening, but also for the beginning credits sequence too.

Hoping to have my script out to my initial readers next week as long as the joyous festivities of Halloween don't interfere too much.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another Dose of Allah Las

Been getting good feedback in regards to the music of Allah Las. So here for your listening pleasure, is one more song from them, entitled "Long Journey."

As for the random, out of focus picture being shown, the weather has been a bit abnormal lately here in sunny California. It's a photo of some bizarre looking clouds looming over Hollywood.

So get the gunk out of your ears and listen up...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why the Flaws of Pet Sematary Help to Make It My Favorite Movie

The more research I do on horror movies for the well being of my own scary flick, the more I realize just how brilliant "Pet Sematary" is.

Even to this day, I remember seeing this movie as a kid and distinctly remembering two visuals that will never leave me for the rest of my life.

1. The tiny shoe tumbling after the truck hits little Gage. No gore, no visual of impact, just a slow motion shot of that shoe explained everything.

2. The character of Zelda (suffering from spinal meningitis), with her creepy laugh and her spine practically puncturing out of her skin. "I'm coming for you Rachel, and this time, I'll get you."

Written by Stephen King and directed by Mary Lambert in 1989, the movie was a box office success. Shot for 11.5 million dollars and earning 57+ million domestic, it spawned a sequel starring Edward Furlong, as well as a 2012 remake, written by "1408" scribe Matthew Greenberg with a rewrite from the great genre screenwriter David Kajganich. Needless to say, it's rare when box office success meets popular success (both commercially nationwide, and horror/cult status). "Paranormal Activity" is obviously the latest example.

It's hard to put your finger on a single reason why "Pet Sematary" works so well. Its initial audience obviously came with the Stephen King following, but the film DOESN'T work well on many levels, and that's one reason why it works. Wait...does that make sense? I think so.

Again, "Pet Sematary" works on many levels, but it's the things that don't make any sense at all that really catapult "Pet Sematary" into super stardom. The following is a list of things that make no sense to me whatsoever pertaining to the film. If you disagree, please feel free to elaborate. And remember, I'm talking strictly of the movie, not the book. The book might have these answers, but the movie does not. Here goes:

1. What type of mother are you? Those trucks are freaking dangerous. Why not have a fence installed so the kids don't go wondering into the street? Why is there no discussion of this between parents.

2. I love Jud as a character, but why would you show them the powers of the cemetery when you know what evil it does? You tell the family that kids have to learn about death sometime but then you teach the father about bringing a dead cat back to life? Pretty sure you're making the whole death thing a bit confusing.

3. As a child, why leave Rachel alone with someone clearly close to death with Spinal Meningitis. I mean, that is parenting at its finest. Can we teach that after Lamaze class? Would Charlie Manson even do that to his own kids? (Did he ever have offspring?)

4. Denial is a main character in this one. Louis Creed brings back a goes wrong. Then he brings back his son...he goes wrong (but soooo right). Then he brings back his wife...she goes wrong. This is a doctor, a man of science. Check the stats, play the odds.

If it didn't work the first time, it won't work the second or the third. And I don't care if he says something about not doing it soon enough. He's out of his mind and Dale Midkiff needs to be in more things. If anyone has connections, I want him in my movie. Please, someone make a call for me. He could be Ash's younger brother.

(Coincidentally, Bruce Campbell was the first choice for this role.) And if he was bringing all those people back, I really wished he brought Jud back. Jud would have came back like a George Romero zombie. It would have been cinematic history.

5. How many people have ever gotten into a fist fight with either their father in law, or son in law? I'm sure there are many of you. Of that number, how many of you had that fist fight at a funeral? At either your son's, or your grandson's funeral. Really? You couldn't have taken it outside? Now yes, seeing that coffin open and close after getting hit was a great moment, but damn. You have to pick the right moments for a fight.

6. Jud saves Gage from going into the street of killer trucks once, and yet they still end up letting him get ran over by a truck. Worst parents ever?

7. Spot the dog came back evil. Then Jud witnesses a person being brought back and they had to burn his house down. Again, why would Jud teach Louis how to bring the cat back after going through all that? This is beyond my comprehension.

8. Victor Pascow is a great character. But let's resort to a hypothetical. Say you've just died. Don't you have things to figure out? Look at Patrick Swayze in "Ghost." He has so much work to figure out where he is, and what his capabilities are.

Pascow dies and all of a sudden, he's helping out this doctor he doesn't even know. Yes, I know he's helping Louis because Louis tried to help him. But doesn't Pascow have dead family members he could be reacquainting himself with? Or maybe he could be trying to send these messages to a wife or mother and not the doctor he's never met. Isn't that bizarre? And stop saying things like "The soil in a man's heart is stonier." Why is it that ghosts can't just say simple sentences. How about the version where he says, "Don't bring the dead back to life Louis. That's messed up."

He could learn from Jack Goodman in "An American Werewolf in London." He goes to his best friend and helps him right away and doesn't speak in gibberish either. He says, (paraphrasing) "Sorry best old buddy, you're going to have to kill yourself." Simple and to the point.

Okay, I'm pretty sure the list can go on and on. But remember, it's the faults in horror movies that make them great. The best example is this:

A beautiful bimbo runs through the forest at night from a hideous serial killer. She almost gets away until...she trips.

As soon as "the trip" occurs, the whole audience in the theater moans and groans. Why? "The trip" has to be in horror movies because of the reaction it gets. I love the moan and groan every time I hear it. This is why horror movies will live on way past romantic comedies and other genres. You get the moan and groan, you get grossed out, you get aroused, you get spooked, etc. You get all these wonderfully bizarre moments.

"Pet Sematary" is my favorite scary movie. I watch it multiple times every year, and find something new that I hadn't spotted before. It wasn't til this year that I realized a man played Zelda. Apparently, the reason was because they couldn't find a woman emaciated enough to play the part. Won't have that trouble for the remake.

Can't wait to go home and watch this film again. I want to see Gage in his cute little outfit at the end saying "No fair" and then tripping and hitting his head on the wall.

All in all, the only thing I can say is this, and I want you all to truly take this to heart..."Sometimes, dead is better."

Sunday, October 17, 2010


With the initial first draft of the script complete, I've decided to take some time off from the script before diving into the editing process. It's a breath of fresh air to have the initial draft finished, but it's the rewrites that will make the script better.

Before sending "The Devil's Forest" out to my first round of readers for notes and suggestions, I have to make my own changes beforehand.

"Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." - Stephen King

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Special Thanks

A few months ago, I went to Max Leitman, COO of Bandito Brothers. I wanted his advice on a project called "The Long Corridor," which was a short film I wrote. For me it wasn't about the money. This was a story I felt needed to be told and it was important to me to get it made.

Looking for Max's help, his reply was brief, and went something like this:

Max: It's a short film?
Shaun: Yes.
Max: There's no money in short films. How much are you going to spend?
Shaun: Maybe $20,000.
Max: Why don't you just write a longer story and make a full length feature for like $40,000?
Shaun: Max, that doesn't help. This short film is a story I really want to tell. It's important.
Max: Eh.

Leaving his office, my first thought was, "Man, he just doesn't get it." Turns out...he understood completely.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Allah Las

My male lead in the script is a musician. His grandmother was a famous producer in the music industry and the male lead's parents were a part of the wonderful world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll in the 70s. His father was a great musician, but he hit legendary status when he died.

With music being so vital to the film, both in story and character, it was a necessity to find the perfect type of music. And unfortunately, when I started writing, I had no idea what musicians would suffice.

When I asked Miles Michaud if I could listen to some of his music, I had no idea what to expect. I burned a copy of some tracks he gave me and listened to it on my way home from work. Needless to say, that cd is still being played to and from work. His band is Allah Las.

Their music is raw, their lyrics have depth, and their voice is unique. I'm looking in their direction to create songs specifically for the film, and also to perform in it as well.

For your viewing pleasure, please find two songs that I can't stop playing. They're fun, energetic, and have nothing to do with the visuals I've chosen to display.

Click on the title of this post to go to their myspace page with updated concerts, videos and songs. Also, Miles Michaud has a radio show called Reverberation on KXLU 88.9 Los Angeles on Wednesday mornings. Be sure to check it out.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Cabin

Scouted out this location the same day as The Overlook and Abandoned House (see earlier posts for pictures). This cabin helped me mold the story and individual scenes during the writing process. It made it easy to visualize my characters in these places geographically, and my writing picked up in tempo because of it.

One of the things that really draws me to this cabin is that it has so many different locations within such a small area, and each spot has a totally different personality to it. Take the red walls of the bedroom and contrast it with the long steps surrounded by the crisp greenery. Or the bleakness of the dry, dead trees mixed with the blooming flowers.

As most of ACT 2 will take place in or around the cabin, it's important to have multiple areas to shoot to keep it fresh.

Double click the youtube clip so the images aren't cropped!

Music by Goblin from the Dario Argento classic, "Suspiria."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Overlook Location

As I'm writing the script, I've been calling this next possible location, "The Overlook." I can't help but think I'm just stealing from "The Shining," but at the same time, if you're going to steal from something, might as well go for the big guns. After seeing the photos of this amazing location, how could the name not be "The Overlook"??

Other than the obvious view, this location had the following:

Indian Tent
Tire Swing
Regular Swing
20 Foot Tall Gates
Petting Zoo
Bizarre Oval Shaped Look out
Glass Room
Waterless Pools
The Actual Overlook
A Noose with a Tea Cup

I also love the place's decadence. Some of the pieces there were worth more money than I'll ever see in my life, and at the same time, these things are just laying around, unprotected, and untouched, but slowly aging.

This place would elevate the film with ease. I know Mikey would love to shoot at a place like this (in both day and night), and there's no way being in an area like that wouldn't elevate the actor's performances.

What do you all think?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Abandoned House

The abandoned house was the first location we looked at. Miraculously, it wasn't really even one we intended on looking into. We had to travel out of "the township" due to the fact that there are no gas stations there. Thus, after getting violated by the gas prices along the Pacific Coast Highway, we headed back towards the township. We pulled over on the side of the road, crossed the street, and walked through a closed off area.

Through the brush, a perfectly swept driveway took us to the graffiti-ridden abandoned house. A broom and shovel, propped up against the tree, told us that it must have been swept recently, but only up until a certain point. Then, the mayhem of debris: leaves, spiderwebs, beer cans, broken glass, and all other goodies were everywhere.

The art on the walls was done by talented taggers to say the least. My personal favorite is the simple "Hang in there" drawing of a body hanging from a noose (morbid I know).

Even though it was a bright and sunny afternoon, the boarded up windows of the first floor made it pitch black. The only light we had to see was from the flash of each picture I took. Navigating throughout the rooms was both difficult and creepy until we got to the upper floor where the windows let the light shine in.

In every sense of the word, the place was gorgeous for a horror movie: full of character, past lives, destruction, and a sense of stillness that could only be interrupted by a the shards of glass cracking under our feet.

Check out the pictures, and hang in there...

A Different World

Thanks to Ramsay Potts and friends for showing me some incredible locations. It was a completely different world that he took me to compared to the Hollywood life. His "township" (that's what he calls it), reminds me of small towns In New Hampshire: one long main street, and the town center that you drive through and say to yourself, "Was that it?" The only difference is a lack of hotels and gas stations.

It's a tight knit community with a past, worth experiencing. No, it's certainly not a place for everybody, but in the world of horror, it definitely has its charms. Abandoned houses, unfinished castles, old cabins, undeveloped land to get lost in, no street's perfect for my film.

After looking at locations all day Saturday, I didn't want to write so much. Instead, I was ready to begin filming. Can't wait to really get this shoot going.

Amazing location pics to follow...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Busy Week

It's been a busy week inside the creepy, dark Devil's Forest. I've plunged deep into ACT 2 of the script where all the fun ensues, and this weekend I'll be scouting a possible cabin in the woods for the film.

Charlie Manson actually lived on the same street as this cabin at one time, and that obviously adds to the lure of not only the cabin, but the Forest that will be so important to my script. Can't wait to check it out.

Also got a chance to talk to one of my supporting actresses who signed on to be in the film this week. Was great to be able to talk to someone who will portray one of my mind's inventions. I know she'll be great.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Writing Status

Wish I had more time in each day to actually sit down and write. Just set myself up with some weekly goals for the script. Looks like I'll have to hit 15 pages per week in order to make the cut for my first draft. Totally within reach if I continue writing before and after every work day.

Might cut into my beauty sleep a bit, but I guess that's why I stay behind the camera.

The "Rosemary's Baby" soundtrack really helped me out tonight to push through some tough procrastination moments tonight. Let's just say, I finally got my main characters to that wonderful, little place in many many horror films called...The Cabin in the Woods.

"Evil Dead" anyone?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Possible Locations

Been looking at some great possible locations this weekend thanks to my two location managers, Erika Cipriano, and Kim Rosenthal. The ability to go to these places has really opened up my writing as well, giving me an edge to truly visualize what I'm writing. The following are photos of some of these locations:

Tae Kwon Do Dojo:

Atmospheric Beach:

Abuelitas Restaurant:
Makeshift Dentist:


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Director of Photography

Mike Svitak has been the Director of Photography of "The Devil's Forest" since day one. We previously discussed developing a short script I had written, until I realized there was no reason not to go ahead and shoot a full length feature film.

Mikey has had an extensive career in the industry, and has worked on recent films such as "Iron Man 2," "Terminator Salvation," "Semi-Pro," and "Act of Valor" to name a few. Click on the title of this post to see his resume on imdb.

Here are 2 links to his reel to see some of his work. The first is a Low Resolution, and the second is a High Resolution. You'll have to copy and paste the link in your web browser.

His talent, knowledge, and experience will be a great addition to "The Devil's Forest."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back in Los Angeles

It was a highly successful trip with Bandito Brothers, as well as a highly successful trip for the screenplay of "The Devil's Forest." Finally got time to sit down and just write, both on the airplane and at my hotel at night.

Not sure why, but I've always been motivated to write in hotels. There's something about being in a different environment, sitting at a desk that is not your own, and entering a world you created in your mind. For some reason, it makes sense to be in the gorgeous weather of Virginia Beach with a view of the ocean and write about crummy locations in Los Angeles.

Most of the writing I accomplished this week was in regards to the female protagonist of the film, a strong-willed Latina from a broken home, constantly trying to keep her family together. I was also able to really flesh out the male lead in the film as well and am looking forward to writing some of his introductory scenes.

Looking to get a lot of work done this weekend, unfortunately from my apartment, and not a hotel on the beach.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Traveling from Los Angeles to Virginia Beach tomorrow for a Bandito Brothers shoot. In my book that means I'll have about 7 hours of quiet time tomorrow to work on the script of "The Devil's Forest" and 7 hours on Friday when I return.

Can't get much better than that.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Ultimate Foot in Mouth Situation

When I first moved out to Los Angeles as a screenwriting hopeful, I saw a film called "Wrong Turn" starring Eliza Dushku. After watching it, I thought to myself, "Thank God for this movie. It's shit like this that keeps me motivated because I know I can write a better script and make a better movie than this." That movie still sits in my head and reminds me how easy it is to waste $10 million. This could be the ultimate foot in the mouth scenario. I'm hoping to stop the "I could make a movie better than that" phase of my life and actually make a movie better than that.
Of course $10 million is not exactly the budget I have to work with. This has lead me to seek out films that have made either a limited release in theatres or straight to dvd. My first thought was looking at After Dark Films, Fangoria Filmfest, Dimension Extreme, Ghost House Underground: companies who have established themselves and now buy smaller budgeted, indie horror flicks. Diving deeper in the research, most of those movies are not quite as small budgeted as I had hoped. A lot of those movies are in the $5 - $10 million range.

As the search continued, I found myself going through the horror section at Blockbuster Video, starting at the letter A. I made a list of the films that seemed low budgeted and honestly, downright ghetto. Nevertheless, there are films that were made for under $500,000 that are on the shelves at a video store. And in theory, that's one of the goals: to get my movie to a place where people can see it.

Whether it's "The Curse of El Charro" (which uses the voice of Danny Trejo) for $200,000 or "Nightmare Man" for $250,000 (After Dark Films), the point is, these movies make it to shelves on Blockbuster Video. It's time for me to seek out my competition, and see what other people have done with such limited budgets.

So within the next few years, I'll have to sit down and watch the dreaded "Wrong Turn" again. Sorry Eliza, I'm just speaking from the heart. And I'll watch it, either chewing on popcorn with a look of satisfaction on my face that I did create something better, or I'll simply be eating the leather of my shoe to get my foot in my mouth.

ps...Producer Hat says, "Wrong Turn" has multiple sequels, which means it's a franchise...and wouldn't you Shaun, like to have a franchise? Yes, please.


Horror Films have long been taking place in minimal locations. The producer hat thinks it's solely because horror films are created on shoe string budgets and creating horror in one place is well, cost effective. Oren Peli's "Paranormal Activity" is the most recent example, but the list is endless: "The Strangers," "The Others," "Evil Dead," "House," "Quarantine" and of course the Steven Spielberg production of "Poltergeist" (no matter what it says in the credits, Tobe Hooper did not direct this, it's obvious).

To say "Poltergeist" excels on multiple levels is not exactly a leap of faith. Made for under $11 million and grossed $122 million, kickstarted Craig T. Nelson's career, continued Spielberg's amazing run of making quality films, the "Poltergeist" franchise flourished amidst its very own supposed curse (four cast members died during the making of the three films).

What left a lasting impression on me from my latest viewing of this film is the different styles of "scares" that were created comparing the first half of the movie to the last half hour. The beginning starts off with silverware bending, chairs moving, and subtle tricks to make the audience feel uneasy. The last 30 minutes, however, is an absolute funhouse! (SPOILER ALERT) From clown dolls strangling children, skeletons popping up in the unfinished pool, coffins coming out of the ground, explosions, the Beast rearing its ugly face, etc. Spielberg feeds both the "gross out fans" and the "not seeing it is creepier" fans. He mixes humor (Craig T. Nelson's performance) and the mundane family living with extreme horror. He is after all, Steven Spielberg (who had another movie come out the same year "Poltergeist" was released. A little film called "E.T.").

Needless to say, I'm ready to rent the sequels...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Creative Restrictions

The writing process has been a lot more difficult than I'm used to. Perhaps it's "Resistance" that author Steven Pressfield so frequently writes about ("The War of Art"). Whether it's the day job and its current office move, or the laziness inside that would just rather watch old horror movies (Previous saboteurs include "Pet Sematary" and "Christine"), there always seems to be something standing in an author's way.

My current state of mind feels like it's not so much the "Resistance" as it is, budgetary constraints. One of the first things you're told as a screenwriter (besides the obvious "show, don't tell" cliche), is to never limit yourself. Do not worry about things a producer should worry about. Who cares how expensive it is to shoot a scene on Planet Mars with 500,000 intergalactic space aliens? Who cares how expensive it is to shoot a scene at the top of the Empire State Building? With writing comes freedom...supposedly. Nevertheless, I feel myself creating a script around locations and situations I know I can get for a cheap price. The freedom of the writer's creative ideas instantly evaporates when you become the producer. The struggle between the creative side and the business side continues.

Nevertheless, I will write on.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mexican American Mix

Love the mixture of the crosses reminiscent of "The Omen," and the dressed Skeleton with shades of Dia de Los Muertos. This is the same blend I'm attempting for my film, Mexican Folklore with old school American film making.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Translations Complete

Now that translations are complete, I'm going to really dive in and start structuring the story. Got a lot of ideas running through my head that need to be tied together. Looking forward to it.

I must thank my translator for working so diligently, and free of charge.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Last night, we began translating the interview and putting it down on paper. It's going to be a long process, but every paragraph is full of gems. Here's an excerpt about a warlock:

"The Oaxacan Army tied him up and continually shot him, but he would not die. He was still laughing as they grabbed an axe, and chopped him to pieces."

Pleasant dreams.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Interview

Thank you to Floriana Gregorio for introducing me to San Melchor Betaza, Mexico, a city rich in folklore. We spoke for over an hour (through translator) on the history of her family in relation to the black arts.

There's nothing better than a good old fashioned ghost story. She had multitudes.