Interview with Producer/Writer Dan Dark (SPEECHLESS)

Dan Dark’s short film SPEECHLESS played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?  

I have loved horror movies since I was a child. I lived within walking distance of a rental store that didn’t have any age restrictions for R-rated movies, so much of my young life was gathering a few dollars in change from around the house and walking to the Mr. Video down the street. I’d rent the movie with the scariest box art and watch it when everyone else at home was asleep. I had wanted to be involved in the making of a horror film as long as I could remember.

When the time came to finally achieve this dream, I was also motivated by the number of great filmmakers, artists, musicians and writers who were willing to help on the project. It was easy to stay motivated when I knew I had some truly talented people working on the film because, like me, they all wanted to work on a fun little short horror film too.

 From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you
to make this short?

A lot of things fell into place pretty quickly. From my first meeting with Bayonet Media, the film production company that made SPEECHLESS happen, where I was told that yes, this was possible to make and to make right, it was maybe 4 months until we had our finished film.

  How would you describe your short film in two words!?  

This is a tough one. I would say that the words I would want people to feel or experience are “creepy fun.”

 What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?  

Dustin Demoret, the director and editor of SPEECHLESS works at Bayonet and kept us from hitting many obstacles. Lauren Harper, another producer on the film, provided a ton of support and let us film in her home over two evenings and really made sure we got the most out of the limited $10,000 budget.

  What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking
about your film in the feedback video?

I am a bit of a perfectionist and so I was a little nervous about the feedback part. I didn’t want them to notice all the tiny things that bother me after watching it 100 times. But, seeing film fans give honest feedback was really fun because that’s what movie making is about! You go and have an experience with a piece of work another group of people made and you get to interact with it. Watching movies shouldn’t be passive, it should be something that inspires a conversation and seeing the feedback video really drove home that feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

  How did you come up with the idea for this short film?  

Funny story, actually. I have a friend whose son accidentally locked himself in the basement of their hom. The son wrote SOS on a piece of paper and slid it under the door. My friend took a photo of the paper by the door and posted it to Instagram. I loved the idea of something communicating through a series of notes and initially the story was going to follow a boy who kept receiving notes first from the basement then directly into his room as the evil gets closer and closer. I had to pare down the story to the most basic elements for this short, but that is where the idea came from.

  What film have you seen the most in your life?  

I love this question! It’s so hard to say because I was a very obsessive compulsive kid and teen. If I liked a movie I would watch it over and over again, sometimes three times in a day. So what movie have I watched the most? Maybe Little Giants with Ed O’Neill and Rick Moranis or Homeward Bound with the dogs and cat that get lost. Since this was a horror film festival, I should probably include the horror film I have watched the most which would either be Jaws or Return of the Living Dead.

  What song have you listened to the most times in your life?  

Again, I love love love this question. I would have to guess Bohemian Rhapsody since it has been around forever and I have listened to it my entire life.

  What is next for you? A new film?  

I have several short film scripts in the works which are mostly in the horror/thriller genre, but I would eventually love to try my hand at some comedic work too.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival


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