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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Two Independent horror features . Sacrament - The Film (2014) & The Lashman (2014)

During the course of last week I had an interesting 'discussion' with someone online (clean out your mind, it wasn't one of those types of online conversation) about a previous blog post of mine which was publicising an independent horror film production. I won't name the film concerned, that would be unfair to those involved with it, besides which, it really isn't important to name names. No, the 'conversation' that I had with the fool of an individual was in response to his comment about the type of film it is and the type of people that were involved in its making.

Excellent slashing technique....
Now I'm all for freedom of opinion and the like, however what really riled me wasn't the fact that he didn't like the subject matter of the movie. It was more the frankly obnoxious and ill-informed opinion he had of the whole slasher genre and it's film-makers. I'm paraphrasing here to protect the terminally stupid, but in essence his comments were something along the line of " not another stupid slasher movie made by talentless filmmakers lacking in creativity or originality" and " I will be avoiding the film at all costs"....... way to go with the open minded approach then matey.

I found his attitude rather annoying - to say the least. I may myself not be the greatest fan of the slasher movie, but opinions that completely dismiss and ridicule out of hand the work and commitment (not to say their own money) that independent horror filmmakers are prepared to go through frankly make me want to go all Friday the 13th on those suckers. We have enough dismissive ill-informed nonsense to put up with from people outside the horror genre without having to listen to brain-dead morons who would gladly dismiss the years of hard work, money and sheer blood (literally ) and guts needed to make a feature length movie. 

So I was pleased that by pure coincidence that the day after informing the individual that he was a moronic elitist idiot I was contacted by not just one, but two indie film directors who were asking for a little bit of publicity for their respective productions. Both contacts sent me a brief synopsis of their movies, but I wanted a little more. Essentially I wanted to shed a bit more light than usual on just how much thought and work goes into your typical horror slasher type production.

So I decided for once to do something almost resembling a proper interview type thing and so proceeded to ask a series of my now legendary probing and cunning questions to the men behind the movies. So read on for a brief overview of the soon to be released films and a more detailed interview type thing that accompanies them. Hopefully both interviewees won't mind the occasional amendments that I had to make as some of their responses where the spelling etc was from the American form (in other words, incorrect) to the UK versions of the words (in other words, correct).



Sacrament - The Film (2014)

So first of all, the film itself.....

"Leaving the city behind for a weekend of booze, bud and bonding at the coast, seven friends find themselves stranded en route to South Padre Island when a big storm interferes with their plans. The town of Middle Spring is more than happy to welcome them with open arms, however; located in the rhinestone buckle of the Bible Belt, Middle Spring is smack-dab in the middle of a big barbecue and tent revival and there's always room at their table for a few more warm bodies.

Unfortunately, no one in Middle Spring is exactly who they seem to be. This town takes the Bible quite literally, and the friends have to stick together as time begins to run out and they realize that what's on the menu may be closer to home than they suspected."

Sacrament stars Troy Ford, Avery Pfeiffer, Brittany Badali, Cassandra Hierholzer, Wesley Kimenyi, Amanda Rebholz, Henry Pao, Marilyn Burns, Ed Guinn, Richard Houghton, Joshua Cole Simmons. It was written by Shawn Ewert, along with Donna White, Amanda Rebholz, Josh Riggs. The screenplay is by Shawn Ewert and it's produced by Donna White and Amanda Rebholz.


Interview with Director, writer, screen player, and all round annoyingly multi-talented Shawn Ewert. 

Shawn (centre) showing the rest of
the crew who the boss is.
(Me) So for those who may not know much about you, tell us a little about yourself.

(Shawn) Born and raised in North Texas, I started writing short stories at a tender age. Following a deep love of film of every kind, I was encouraged by friends and professors to pursue my love of writing. Growing up during the heyday of the slasher film in the 80′s, I immediately developed an affinity for horror films that borders on obsession. 

(Me) Who are your horror influences?

(Shawn) My biggest influence has to be Clive Barker. He is an amazing artist who works in multiple media. I try to push myself to at least attempt to work in any creative opportunity I am able. Beyond Clive - John Carpenter, George Romero, John Waters and Sam Raimi are a few that come to mind. 


(Me) The production seems to have a few more complex themes than your normal run of the mill horror, so tell everybody about the plot of Sacrament the film.

(Shawn) Sacrament starts out with a familiar premise of a group of kids going off on holiday. 

There is some family tension for one of the leads, and the plan is to just get away and have a good time. The group lands themselves in a town where the populace takes 'the body and the blood' very literally. They have to do their best to get out of town before ending up on the chopping block as the town reveals itself to be run by religious cannibals. 


(Me) I understand that you've recently had to deal with some controversy about another film using the same name as yours?

(Shawn) I don't know that I would call it 'controversy' exactly. We have been working on getting this film made since 2011, and have been operating under the name 'Sacrament' for the majority of that time. Unfortunately, sometime during our production, a film called 'The Sacrament' was announced by a much more well-known director and producer. We decided it wasn't right for us to have to change our name after operating under it for so long. The other film is actually scheduled for release the day before our film has its world premiere. It is what it is. Either way, we are probably going to have to change our name once we get to a point of talking distribution. It's just unfortunate since the title works out so perfectly for our film. 


(Me) So what are the plans for the movie in terms of publicity and release?

(Shawn) Our world premiere will be June 7th in Dallas, Texas at the historical Texas Theatre. After the premiere, we will begin our film festival submissions, and begin talking to distributors in the US and abroad. We plan on travelling to as many of the festival screenings as possible to get a real impression of what people think of the film. It will be a first for many of us to head across the pond to the UK and Europe, so we are pretty excited.

Many thanks to Shawn for spending the time in coping with my incisive and thought provoking questions.

The FACEBOOK page for the movie can be found RIGHT HERE!!



The Lashman (2014)

Once again, a very brief account the film itself.....


" Lashman is a tale of terror. When five friends set out for a weekend excursion, they soon realize their campfire tales have turned into their worst nightmares. The Lashman marks the feature length film debut of Cameron McCasland who wrote, produced, and directed the movie. McCasland honed his film making skills in television directing music videos as well as the award winning made for TV movie, The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special, and Go Green With Dr. Gangrene series of short films." 

The Lashman stars Stacey Dixon, Shawn C. Phillips, David Vaughn, Jeremy Jones, Kaylee Williams, Tim Emery, Lee Vervoort, David Chattham, Terry Gragg, Todd Bush, Alea Jordan, Joe Downing and Larry Underwood. The movie was shot on location in western Kentucky.

The trailer for the movie can be seen right HERE BABY!

Before I show the transcript of the interview I would simply like to say that if Kaylee Williams or Stacey Dixon would like to send me a Facebook friend request I wouldn't mind one little bit........


Interview with writer, producer, director and another annoyingly multi-talented individual, Cameron McCasland


(Me) So for those who may not know much about you, tell us a little about yourself.

(Cam) My name is Cameron McCasland, I was born in Texas, but have lived and worked in Nashville,TN since 2001. I am a film director, and a story teller. I am the father of two amazing daughters, who keep me on my toes. If you are into classic horror you might have seen some of work with television horror host Dr. Gangrene. I tend to get noticed for my shiny red beard, and usually wear colourful sneakers.


Cam as a kid, can anybody else see his imaginary friend?.....
(Me) Tell me about some of your horror influences?

(Cam) Where do I start with this one? Early on in life i was into cartoons like Masters Of The Universe, Thundercats, stuff like that. And they all had these great monsters that I was drawn to. I think the Universal monster movies stick out to me as one of the earliest influences. I grew up in a home that was fairly conservative. My parents rarely watched horror films, and it just wasn't something I had a lot of access to at first. We did however watch a lot of classic movies, and my parents were encoring of the arts in general. But one year there was a Universal Monster movie marathon on cable and I spent an entire weekend going through all of those old black & white films. I was mesmerised. The following summer we took a trip to Universal Studios on vacation. We saw the Bates Motel and Psycho house, Jaws jumped out of the water, I was in the Back To The Future show…but the thing that stuck out the most was seeing the Frankenstein Monster. He locked on me, and it made me really happy. I have this great photo of him choking me, and I can still feel the way it felt on my neck. That sold me on horror movies.

Going forward I sampled all the best slashers, and honestly all the worst as well. Carpenters Halloween is still the bench mark for me, and I adore Evil Dead 2, but don't we all at this point? I am really thankful though that I wasn't able to see this stuff too early in life. I think some true classics get glossed over by a lot of film makers and movie fans alike just for being shot in Black & White.

(Me) So, what exactly is the plot of The Lashman?

(Cam) The Lashman is a campfire tale. A group of friends get together for one last hurrah before they have to go their separate ways in life. Little do they know there weekend excursion will turn into a nightmare.

The thing is, I wasn't trying to reinvent the wheel here. Quiet the opposite really. I wanted to play up some of the tropes of the slasher film, but kind of ground it again. The hey day for these type of movies was in the 1980's. Everything from Friday the 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street, Maniac, The Burning, etc. What followed was a glut of similar films, and everyone wanted to one up the last one with more nudity, more ridiculous kills, and if you were lucky you could get a killer that looked cool or had a gimmick. But at a certain point they really kind of stopped being scary, and no really cared about the characters (the campers) as much as they cared about the guy in the mask. They became chum for the beast. I tried to use that knowledge to my advantage and make something that feels like one of the earlier ones before all the sequels and trips into space made it a parody of themselves.


(Me) Let's say for arguments sake that I'm not the greatest fan of slasher movies. How is The Lashman going to change my mind?

(Cam) I think the characters in the movie will make it scary for you. They have time to breathe, and the audience gets a chance to know them a bit. It's sort of a slow burn to the mayhem, but we deliver on that in a big way I believe. By the end you'll be saying "i don't really dig slasher films, but I love Lashman."
Looks legit........
(Me) I understand that most of the movie was shot around three years ago. Why the delay between filming and post production of the film?

(Cam) Well, I ran into a few personal problems. The first year was anticipated. We shot the principal cast in August of 2010. Shawn C. Phillips came in from Baltimore right before he moved out to San Diego California. Kaylee Williams came to the project last minute and was in from Chicago where she lives. David Vaughn and Jeremy Jones were both living in Nashville when we started the project as was Stacey Dixon. Since then Jeremy has moved down to Louisiana and David is out in Hollywood doing great work. I'm really proud of him.

We actually started on Friday the 13th in August 2010 and I shot the final scene of the movie 11 days later on my Birthday August 24th. I came back and did some re shoots with Todd Bush, Terry Gragg, and Tim Emery a few weeks later. And then the leaves changed. So we started piecing the movie together, but had not shot the opening of the film yet. Alea Jordan and Joe Downing joined the cast and we shot that a year later, and I celebrated a second birthday at Copper Canyon Ranch.

My marriage was in pretty rough shape. And less than two weeks later my children and I moved out and I separated from my now ex-wife. The divorce was a rough one. And I was doing the everyday single parent thing as my children were living with me. I got really sick during all that, and nearly lost my arm to an infection. It was a lot of dark days. The movie got tied up in the legal parts of the divorce, and my head was in a really strange place. The divorce wasn't finalised until August of 2013. All in all it was for the best. I'm much happier now, and my children are well loved. I think both myself and their mother want whats best for them. And I have someone in my life now who loves me, and is supportive. In that regard life is good.

And the wait isn't all bad. During all of that bad news I did find some time to go back and do some pick up shots that we didn't necessarily need, but give the movie a little more oomph. We were able to do some work on the sound which was initially horrid as we had shot during the 7 year cicada cycle in Kentucky.

 Kaylee Williams & Stacey Dixon - honest to god, 
what's not to like?
 I also found Thomas Berdinski, who composed our soundtrack. I had talked to a few composers, and wasn't happy with what I was hearing. Its hard to explain how the best slasher movie soundtracks sound, but even more so how they make you feel as a fan of the movie. Thomas totally got that from the jump. We spoke a little about influences, and the things i liked. I hummed this melody and the guy just went off and made this amazing score out of that. It blew my mind.


(Me) So what are your plans for the movie in terms of publicity and release?

(Cam) Well its funny, because had we released this 3 years ago It would have been simple. Put out a DVD, and hope the video stores pick it up. But now the video stores don't exist anymore, and people don't collect DVDs the way they used to. So we have to be a bit broader.

I had always planned to tour the movie, and still do. The obvious stuff is play at film festivals, and at genre conventions. That's what everyone does. But I'm wanting to take it out on the road and just screen it to whomever will watch. I'm not opposed to playing movie theatres, but the rental cost don't make it really effective sometimes. So I want to do house parties, and bonfires, and play it in bars. That type of thing. Treat it like a punk rock band. Some places you charge admission, while others we may just pass around the hat and hope for the best. In my mind DVD is where movies go to die these days. Once its on DVD people stop talking about it. Its just a thing that happened and it gets filed away on a shelf.

But at some point we will do a DVD. And I'm looking into all kinds of streaming options. I expect it get bootlegged. Not that I want it to, but I know what the times are and I'm not letting it break my heart. I just hope that for the people that do steal it, that you will tell friends about it and toss in a few bucks to me or other indie film makers going forward. Buy a t-shirt or toss a few bucks at a crowd funding campaign. Help us feed out families and support the stuff you like.

And for people who really want to watch slashers in their most classic format, VHS. I think we may have some cool news for them in a few weeks.

(Me) Hey, thanks for the detailed and interesting insight into your world, mate. All the very best with the future with the movie.

(Cam) Thanks!

I'll be checking daily my Facebook friend requests Kaylee or Stacey!

The Lashman is set for a world premiere Saturday April 19th 2014 at the 13th Annual Full Moon Horror Film Festival In Nashville, TN Members of the cast and crew will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening. The Lashman is currently booking dates on the festival circuit, and setting out for a touring roadshow. For more information on the premiere screening please visit http://www.fullmooninc.net/


You can find the Lashman on facebook at facebook.com/lashmanmovie or on twitter @LashmanFilm










2 comments:

  1. As a Midwesterner with a fondness for Clive Barker, Sacrament seems like a flick I'd like to watch :)

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    1. Hopefully I'll be getting a preview of it soon, Paleo - looking forward to it! :-)

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