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...