Jan 15th, I boarded a flight headed to Orlando with 3 of my closest friends to start production on my film, “The Sluagh.” We started filming immediately, literally stealing shots in LAX and on the plane with hidden lav’s connected to our iPhone’s with the cords running up through our clothes. That run and gun attitude and willingness to try set the tone for what became 2 of the best weeks of my life.
It’s hard for me to put into words how amazing of an experience producing my first feature (that I also wrote & starred in) was. We shot the film in Lake Wales, FL, the hometown of one of my partners, Shane Hartline. His family & their friends served as the heartbeat of this film, putting us up, feeding us, providing us with EVERY location FOR FREE (this includes houses, gas stations, an incredible plot of land with more props / trailers and inspiration then you could ever dream.) It is amazing what you can get if you just ask and the warmth and love we received from that community was unprecedented. The best example of this is when the sheriffs showed up because they had gotten calls from 2 neighborhoods over from where we were filming that “someone was screaming and getting murdered in the woods.” This was all true, but it was all fake but THEY didn’t know that. 3 deputies walked 3 miles on foot with flashlights through orchards and woods until they came upon us and watched us, thinking we were some sort of cult. On set we had heard sirens and started to get nervous, had anyone called the non emergency line that day to inform them of the screams they’d be hearing? Nope, an oversight in a crazy day of filming. Immediately we stopped filming, sat in the trailer and gave it some time, we didn’t want any accidents. Shane’s mom Candi, went looking for the cops to explain the situation. 15 minutes later the 3 deputies walk in the trailer with relieved smiles on their faces. We pump them full of crafty and drinks, show them some footage and they tell us that the back up helicopter was only 3 minutes away when Candi had found them. Talk about a lucky break. Were they mad? Nope! In fact, one of the deputies even came back to be an extra in the film.
It’s a very surreal experience to be in a space full of people who are all there to help make your vision a reality. We had actors fly in from Atlanta on their own dime to be apart of the film. We had the most incredible 3 man crew help us make the impossible, possible in the creepiest, coolest way. I had the best damn first time make-up artist who saved me on this because without Madison I would have had no time to prep for my scenes, her willingness to learn and natural talent made one of the hats I had to wear a lot less of a stress. We had so many people volunteer to be helping hands, extras who were there for no money and stayed till 7 am to stand in the freezing cold rain just so we could get the perfect shot and they did it with smiles on their faces. The people I met and had the honor to work with changed me as a person. We had the great privilege to Taft Hartley a few actors on the film, one of them, Isaiah Jimenez, who first came on board as an extra was so touched by the opportunity that he gave the toast at our wrap party.
I’ve been very fortunate to work on a lot of productions in my 8 years in Los Angeles but I can honestly say there has never been an experience like this one. Creating your own work is the most satisfying job you will ever have. It is stressful as hell, it will push your limits, you will not sleep but you will be so proud of yourself when you make it out. I can’t believe I did it, I am so glad I said yes to this project, I am so glad I took the risk and I am eternally grateful for every single person that donated to this film, that helped make it happen, that leant their creative vision to help make my baby come to life. Just by asking we were able to get every stunt and effect we wanted. This film was truly a testament to what can happen when people come together and are passionate about something. I’m writing this really hoping to inspire somebody to take a risk like this. It can be scary to take on responsibilities you’ve never had to take on before but if I can do it, I promise you can too.
Saying yes and asking for favors…that’s all we did, AND WE MADE A FREAKIN MOVIE.
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