SOMETHING WICKED DWELLS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the September 2021 BLACK & WHITE Film Festival.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I first wrote the poem in the mid 1990s. I wanted to write the quintessential ‘haunted house’ poem. Then, slowly, the idea for a short black and white film took on a life.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make your film?
Well, that’s a bit hard to explain. The original motion picture hard drive was stolen off-set by my acting producer. It became a bitter legal battle in 2011-2012, and a hot mess for about a year. My suit was eventually dropped, but I was determined to see it through with ‘something.’ I had sponsors and investors attached to it. If not for me, for the actors that gave their all. I decided to use the stills that were shot during rehearsal and during takes by photographer Jay Lawton, and create a silent film piecing together these shots in a time line that synced to the script and poem. I think it worked and I’m happy with the results. I shelved the film in 2013 after UCLA Archived it in their Special Collections. Then, recently, my instinct was to pull it out of the digital shelf and see what could happen. My instinct is paying off. It’s found a brand new life!
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The actors were a dream come true. A gift! Unfortunately, I trusted the wrong person, my producer, and became embattled in a horrible legal mess. BUT, what I did learn from the experience is that I protected my property the way I’m supposed to. From A-Z, I own everything. Ownership in this industry is everything. Registration with the WGA-W and Copyright with the Library of Congress and my SAG Contracts that are signed by only me. Period.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I became emotional. It’s been a decade-long journey, which I don’t take lightly. I appreciate it. I am honored. Still Photographer Jay Lawton passed away in 2013 (so did my grandmother). It was a difficult year, and to tend to the legal mess, too. I know that Jay would be so proud of this moment. Production Designer Aaron Glazer and editor Jordan Kerfeld created magic, as you all saw. Thank you for acknowledging their contributions!
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
In the late 1960s and 70s when I would go to the movies, in Houston, with my mother and father. I was always transported into another world and I wanted to be a part of it.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
WOW! Great question! I’ve seen a number of films over a hundred times… at least… films that have impacted me and still inspire me. The Exorcist (1973), The Haunting (1963), What’s Up, Doc? (1973), Ghost Story (1981), Grease, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Nice Guys, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The First Wives Club, The Town… Flashdance. Yes, Flashdance!
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
I’m so grateful for it. Extremely user-friendly and the festivals are typically reasonably priced. Thankfully, withoutabox disappeared.
9. What is your favorite meal?
Breakfast! I love good ole fashioned scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, french fries, and a nice warm English muffin. Top it off with a mug of hot coffee or hot tea or a cold bottle of Classic Coke!
10. What is next for you? A new film?
I plan on writing a short story adapted from one of my short scripts. Also, I will be writing two novelettes adapted from two features screenplays I wrote. And, hopefully, a film based on ALL of these scripts!