Archive for February, 2011

HorrorCon: The Story

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

In a very real way, the story of HorrorCon is as much a shape-shifter as any element within the genre. It began as a screenplay, transformed into a novella, returned to screenplay form, and is at last being adapted for the screen with digital media. Its soul remained consistent throughout, however: a love song for the disenfranchised and beautifully macabre. I’ve spent many hours at horror conventions from Orlando to Toronto, and have always felt a thrilling kinship within their confines. What continues to strike me is how an affinity for the dark can be held by so many lovely people. What draws some of us to the night and its colorfully nefarious characters? It could be that, at its core, HorrorCon attempts to answer that question.

Structurally, I was fascinated with the idea of imaginary horror on the ground, and real-life horror above. Combined with an oddly charming friendship escalating into heart-tugging tension, I began referring to the narrative as “Lost in Transfusion”, as the film by Sofia Coppola from which the working title was derived inspired a compelling format: hotel + inner chaos = an ethereal mix of dramatic intrigue. Once I added the atmosphere of a horror convention, I was afforded a whole new vein of thematic material from which to mine.

But what, precisely, is there to explore? Could it be that horror and dark fiction present to some of us an arena in which we can lash out safely? Are the monsters outside meant to to do what those inside cannot? Or do we simply feel less alone knowing that suffering can be as important as traipsing blithely through this world? Perhaps, among the fearful and the feared, we can be counted.

To my cast and crew and everyone that finds this film, thank you for joining me in this journey.

Scott Norton

Eliza Lowell: Nicole Vogt-Lowell

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

The first thing you may notice about Nicole is that her last name eerily matches the last name of the character she is playing. Before you think I forced her to add anything in a moment of method madness, I’ll tell you that it was just one of those happy accidents that happens when a project is generating its own gravity. And to play Eliza, you most certainly needed to understand all matters grave.

Enter Nicole, who shared with me a somewhat nomadic upbringing that seemed to inform her understanding of being disconnected, and also her comfort at new challenges. Watching her is watching pure, innate talent in action. I don’t think I took a single breath the first time I heard her read.

Nicole’s only just beginning in the industry, but the instant you meet her you know there’s something truly special about her: a friendly, free spirit with perfect emotional pitch. Part bohemian with delightful hints of gypsy, she’s a huge force of nature in a pretty, petite frame. There are many wonderful worlds in this one, and I’m honored to have her aboard.

Dr. Dmitrije Radan: Chris Kies

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

When I first envisioned the character of Dmitrije Radan (de – MEE – tree  ruh – DAN), I kept seeing Anthony Hopkins in my head. The good doctor was senior and slow, sidling up to Eliza’s booth like a weary, old vaudeville vet. I needed him to be lonely and vulnerable, yet wise with a touch of inner power. Only Hopkins could do it, or so I was convinced.

As it turns out – and I’ve been saying this far more often than I care to admit – I was wrong. Chris completely rewired my thinking on Dr. Radan, and I didn’t have to sacrifice those qualities that made the character and the story click. Kies can add hard miles with a slouch, and in the next moment bring the leading man with a squint. What’s more, he’s got the energy to keep up with Nicole. His commitment to the role makes me feel privileged, and there has been for some time now only one man who could do the job.

Wendy Whipper: Michal Sinnott

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

The character of Wendy was the very last role filled. In many ways, she was the most important character in the film because she represented horror fans to her core. The convention was her planet; its people, her subjects. You get the feeling she has something of a hard time of life when she’s not strutting her stuff around its “hellowed” floors. Casting her began with taking a shot at actresses with a very specific look, to finding the “real thing”.

Then inspiration hit – or more accurately, Michal. We’d be in contact since the beginning, and she understood the story and characters so well. Easily, one of the finest actresses I’d seen during the audition process, the film kept telling me it needed her and finally delivered with an idea: Wendy, as I had written her, was wrong. She was a tough chick with a squishy heart, alright, but she was hell on wheels for a reason: she wore them. Skates, specifically. Michal jumped in with both sets and has floored me with her research on the roller derby queen who isn’t so tough off the flat track.

Francis Grando: Raymond Turturro

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Every director needs at least one member of the cast who brings a touch of untamed street cred to the party; someone who puts the hair on the dog. The thing is, you can’t just pull some dude off the corner and stick him in without seriously endangering set cachet. He needs to exude a lovable air of lawlessness, yet maintain a staunch professionalism and caliber of performance that says he can hang with the pack. If he also brings a “young Nic Cage” to the table, well, you’re in business, aren’t you?

Yes, yes you are. Ray‘s mission – one offered to him on the very first day of auditions – was to lighten the mood while maintaining a critical, furtive undercurrent that could keep us guessing. I’m still thrilled he accepted it.

Lorena Downing: Kelly Marchand

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Sometimes you search and search for an actor that matches the character in your mind’s eye. It’s similar to online dating: you put your info out there and what comes back almost always forces you to rethink your original standards. Then other times, you go poking around the Interweb, spot a “follower” photo about the size of a postage stamp at the foot of a website, trace it back to another website, click on an acting reel, and come face-to-face with a perfect match. Bonus points if you instantly become a fan. Double bonus points if your perfect match reads the script and doesn’t laugh at you.

Put a check next to scenario #2 for Kelly, a super talent who’s been kind enough to stay this side of mega-stardom long enough for me to turn her head for a role.

Dane Harding: Erik Audé

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

The character of Dane Harding required an actor with good looks, an imposing physique, and the willingness to accept a sharp kick to the ego. Trolling for a fit brought varying degrees of luck. As luck had been having it, lately, I happened upon an actor that suited the role, and then some.

Erik Audé went from actor, to unyielding survivalist, to poker champ, and back to actor in a story that rivals any scriptwriter’s wildest adventure fantasies. More importantly, he had talent. He’s one of those guys whose acting reel and real-life-reel is arguably more interesting and exciting than most tent-pole films. And he sported a list of credits that tempted me to contact him out of the blue.

With little fanfare, he expressed he wanted in. I weighed what I knew, and hey…if you’re making a serious horror film and you don’t hire a guy with the nickname “Death Row”, you might as well hang it up.

Director of Photography: Jim Wright

Friday, February 18th, 2011

I know him as Jimbo, but by whatever name he’s called, he’ll answer, “Yo!”. Jim and I grew up a few miles from each other in southern New Jersey, went to the same private, all boys catholic high school, and were even in the same band. We called ourselves the utterly unpretentious “No Exit” after the Jean Paul Sartre novel and performed 80’s new wave hits like Joe Jackson’s “Look Sharp”, Elvis Costello’s “Pump it Up”, and even Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film”. It was surf, slammers and slinging pizzas with Jim 24-7. And he always had a knack for personal style. Spiked blond hair, pink hi-top converse and English Beat t-shirts with the sleeves ripped off. That was Jimbo, the ultimate front man for a 15 year-old keyboardist with checkered Vans™ like myself.

A couple of decades later we’re making a movie together. Lots has happened in between, including Jim making impressive inroads into the world of professional photography and lately, music videos. Having just signed with Taillight, he’s well on his way to the next stage of his always interesting, forever lasting production of unforgettable images. I’m lucky to have him on board for more reasons than I can express.

You can follow his adventures at the blog of Bernstein & Andriulli, his current reps. For a gallery of his some of his work, this link will do nicely.