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Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Filmmaking on a limited budget is always a difficult proposition, but when your entire budget is what most productions – even so-called “low budget” films – spend on their catering… it’s damn near impossible. And if you have plans of your finished product looking any better than your Aunt Edna’s holiday footage from Atlantic City… well, forget it.

So, it was with no small amount of trepidation that I make my way out to the Northern State Hospital one fall evening to observe one of the last days of principal photography on the direct-to-DVD film from Valentine Entertainment, The Taken. The building where shooting was to take place is an old, just this side of dilapidated, former mental institution hidden away in the forests near Sedro Woolley, WA. Walking from my car, I can hear the sounds of an AA meeting taking place in one of the still-used buildings far off across the leaf-strewn parking lot. A group of twenty-somethings eye me suspiciously as they smoke off to the side of the walkway under a tree. It’s pretty obvious that not many people come to the facility to visit. Even fewer come here with a destination of the old asylum.
I walk up the cement sidewalk which cut through an unkempt stretch of dying lawn to where the building looms behind the trees looking like a cross between Hill House and the hospital in Session 9. It is a formidable place and one that is not exactly welcoming in its aspect. After finding an unlocked entrance and making a quick climb up two flights of worn stairs, I wind my way through forgotten hallways until I find a small group of people who are gathered at the far end of the corridor.

In a sparsely outfitted operating theater, lead actor, E.S. Pierce, stands holding a blood-covered sledgehammer. He is continually jumping up and down or running in place in order to maintain being out of breath for the impending scene. Behind the camera, director/writer Richard Valentine confers in hushed tones with producer/actress/makeup artist, Jessica Von. Their conversation is intense, but united by the desire to make a kickass horror film – with or without a substantial budget.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Valentine is a tall, studious-looking guy with a keen eye and an affable smile. Dressed in jeans and a scuffed leather jacket, he is all business as he talks with cast and crew. It is obvious he knows what he is doing and even the uninformed can tell he’s done this kind of thing before. As he gives everyone their marching orders, I notice he always seems to have one eye focused on the monitor.

Jessica Von is a beautiful twenty-something whose intellect and production savvy far exceed what might be implied by her young years. It’s an easy day for her today, with her list of duties consisting of only a few FX shots to be done with makeup artist extraordinaire, Brian Sipe (Star Trek, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button ). Brian is here handling things not so much for the money, but because he is a friend and believes in the project. Both Valentine and Von seem happy to have someone of Brian’s caliber onboard. Von bustles around the set like a mother hen, checking on Pierce’s makeup, verifying that the production is on schedule, and making sure everyone involved is happy.

The day progresses and, from what I can tell, filming goes exceedingly well.

-cut to-

Valentine’s living room – one year later

Valentine, Von, my wife, Catia, and I sit at dinner, eating tacos and talking shop. Once dessert is done, the conversation drifts back to that day back at the asylum where we first met. Now, a full year later, The Taken is a completed film and gearing up to be shown at various genre-based film festivals before it is finally made available on DVD.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Dread Central: Let’s start out by talking about your backgrounds and we’ll talk a bit about how long you’ve both been horror fans.

Richard Valentine: I’ve been a lifelong horror fan. My earliest memory is of being totally fascinated with monsters, the macabre, and anything scary. I’ve always been able to get a rush off of a dark room and not being able to sleep at night. Even as a kid, I tried to seek out things that would scare me. I grew up on Hammer films and old Universal monster movies. Then, as I got into high school, it was the dawn of the VCR and suddenly these films that I had only heard of and didn’t think would be accessible to me were available. I could now go downtown and see DAWN OF THE DEAD, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, DRILLER KILLER, THE EXORCIST… and all that scariness could come home with me.

Jessica Von: I remember being a kid – I must have been four or five years old – and even the make-believe games we played were always horror-themed. Someone was always in peril and there was always a monster involved. I loved being scared. The very first movie that frightened me as a kid – which still to this day terrifies me – was ET. I know it wasn’t supposed to be a horror film, but as a three and a half or four year old, I was absolutely terrified and the noise he makes to this day totally freaks me out. The first movie that really stuck with me though was probably THE CHANGELING. I just couldn’t sleep for nights. To this day, it’s probably one of my favorite films. My love for film grew when I was seventeen, graduated from high school and moved into becoming a Special FX Artist. That was when I realized what I wanted to do was horror films. So, in the last five or six years I’ve made up for it by watching hundreds of all types of horror films.

DC: Rick, how did you get into film production?

RV: Almost out of high school. I trained as an editor and then moved into commercial production and that grew into more corporate work. I did my first feature, REDEMPTION, which was more of an artistic venture in 1997 and did the festival circuit with that. It was in the very first Method Fest. I just continued to learn, to work on other people’s films in different capacities.

DC: When was Bloody Mary made?

RV: BLOODY MARY was in 2005. Prior to that, I was focusing just on my screenwriting and had a lot of ups and downs, some false starts with some projects. You know, you think you’re almost there and the studio likes it and then nothing ever happens with it. So before 2005, I decided it was time to make the jump and thanks to DVD there was now an avenue that low budget independent filmmakers could have that gave them a shot at distribution without having to prepare for the theatrical release. So, the intention with BLOODY MARY was always to make a straight to DVD horror film.

DC: You also taught screenwriting…

RV: Yeah, at a little film school. I taught screenwriting and directing. I think that the writing is the most important part of the process. It’s your best chance of screwing things up right off the bat. It’s the blueprint and if the blueprint is flawed, you’re going to have a really hard time creating anything stable. I’ve always tried to keep practicing and practicing at becoming a better writer. It’s the one part of the process that you can practice. Directing… you can’t do that by yourself. You need to have a lot of buy-in from other people, but with writing, it’s just you, ink, and paper. So, you can keep going back and going back until it’s right, until you’re satisfied. Now, granted… in the real world, you’re going to encounter a lot of scenarios where – like with BLOODY MARY – suddenly there was an opportunity to make a film and the script had to happen much quicker. We had a little bit of that on THE TAKEN where I would have liked more time with the script, but we needed to get into production. Luckily we were also producing, it gave me the opportunity – or the luxury, perhaps – to continue to revise. We were making changes on set as we were shooting.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

DC: Now, Jess, you mentioned starting out as an FX Artist… When did you decide to start acting?

JV: I always wanted to be an actor even as a kid. I thought it would be such a cool job. It was in high school that I did drama. My sister, Jocelyn, is actually the one I need to credit. She introduced me to it. I realized very quickly that it was going to be extremely hard to be a theater actor and make a living at it. I thought, well, I’ve always enjoyed film, but I also knew that was going to be really difficult. So, I used my post-education funds to put myself through makeup school and I knew right away – even before I got into school – that I wanted to do FX. I worked on a couple of films during school and about five days after I graduated I was hired as an assistant on my very first feature which ended up being BLOODY MARY.

DC: So, you guys met on the set of Bloody Mary?

JV: Yeah, I was an FX Assistant. There were some issues with the other FX artist who was hired as the Key and so, a week later, I ended up replacing him. I then took over the rest of the show.

DC: But you were also on camera as an actress, right?

JV: Yeah. There was also an issue with one of the actresses so I ended up also taking on the role as one of the first victims of the film.

DC: So, Jess, you had many jobs on Bloody Mary as well as being The Taken’s producer and lead actress.

JV: I also do most of the designs for the makeup up to this point and I wear about a thousand other hats. I’ve done set design. I’ve done costuming…

DC: That’s a significant contribution. Rick, can you talk to me a little about your influences as writer and director?

RV: When you talk influences, you almost have to talk in terms of what influences you from project to project. There are definitely broad strokes that we could talk about, but specifically with THE TAKEN, I wanted to do something that– at least on the surface – looked like a throwback to horror of the era of CHAINSAW to a little bit of HALLOWEEN. But then, it has some modern influences too. In the first ten minutes of it, people are thinking SAW.

DC: I can see the influences of the Eighties horror films, but The Taken isn’t really, say, a “slasher film.”

JV: It’s story-driven more than anything. With any project we’re thinking of doing, we always have to begin with the story.

RV: It has to be about the story and the characters. You have to establish a gallery of characters that the audience has a chance of buying into, of putting some stake into, because if they don’t, if they can’t connect with somebody on the screen – in this genre at least – then it just becomes a snuff film. We didn’t want to do anything that was a caricature, even with our antagonist, Viktor. He is essentially a faceless killer in a mask for the entire film. But for there to be any depth to the film, we had to show another side to him. There has to be the ability to generate some sympathy, to have some understanding of why all these events are happening. Otherwise, it just becomes an accident by the side of the road that you slow down to take a look at.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

DC: If anything though, you pull back from some of the real graphic stuff. I mean, there’s blood in the film, but…

JV: We’re definitely selective about what we showed and what we didn’t show and there was a lot of debate throughout the process of making the film that we decided not to show certain things. People always want to know why we didn’t show this or that and it was for the reason Rick always gives…

RV: No matter what I put up on the screen, every viewer is going to have a personal experience. So, the moment I show it to you, it’s there and you start to deal with it. But, if I hold back, if I don’t show it to you, what you imagine that thing looks like is going to be so much worse than whatever I could show you.

DC: What was the film’s budget?

RV: The film was brought in for under $50,000.

DC: What was the shooting schedule?

RV: It was a fractured schedule, which I don’t recommend to any aspiring filmmakers who might be reading this, but it was approximately thirty days including re-shoots spread out over eight months.

DC: Wow… so that really was fractured.

RV: Very fractured. Everybody was coming in and really doing us a favor and obviously working below rate. So, we had to shoot when it was most convenient, not for the project, but for everyone else’s schedule. To get twenty or thirty people organized, we might only shoot three days out of a month. On some films, that is less of a challenge. On THE TAKEN, what made it such a challenge was that the story plays out in almost real time. Over the course of the eighty-minute film, only a few hours have elapsed. So, keeping the continuity on something like that with blood spatter, with hair length… We had multiple versions of every costume, but you can’t leave them gored up months on end. They have to be laundered and then Jess would go in with a paintbrush and use reference photos and literally paint on bloodstains.

JV: We had an issue where two of the actresses thought they were shot out and it turned out that they weren’t. One actress didn’t realize she still had surveillance photos to take and, when I went to shoot her, she’d cut all her hair off and dyed it blonde. So, we pulled her hair back in the photos and I had to go into Photoshop and darken her hair and make the photos black and white which is the only option we had. Another actress also cut all of her hair off thinking she was wrapped and we actually had to go out and buy a wig and fake it.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

DC: Given that your entire budget was so low, how did you end up with such a good-looking film? I mean, it looks like a good deal more was spent than what you’ve said.

RV: The crew that we used was used to working on bigger budgeted films, so they came in with that same level of integrity even though the money wasn’t there. They weren’t going to be satisfied with less of a look.

DC: How did you get those people? Were they friends?

RV: A lot of them came back from BLOODY MARY for some strange reason. You go through a long, tough schedule, through a tough film and you’re either are going to become mortal enemies or really good friends. A lot of those people came back and really bought into the film. They liked what was happening. It’s not difficult to find a horror film going into production, but we told everybody that we first and foremost wanted to make an entertaining film, a film we could all be proud of. It wasn’t just a horror film. It was a film that happened to be in the horror genre. And definitely, a lot of favors were thrown at us. We got access to a lot of gear for pennies compared to what it should have cost us and the time we had to make the film was spent right. A lot of time went into planning and really thinking it out. Since we didn’t have any money, how were we going to be able to get the biggest bang for our buck? Some of that was having the strength to just say, “It was really cool in the script, but we can’t afford to do it. If we try to pull this gag off or this effect off or this sequence off with this little bit of money and these few resources, it’s going to be ridiculous.”

DC: Is there an example of that?

RV: There’s a big ‘gotcha’ in the film that I don’t want to give away, but it’s a fairly big kill scene that is connected to a booby-trap. Originally, what it was supposed to be involved a long hallway with open bear traps. We started filming it. We actually had our Prop Master construct dozens of these bear traps in different sizes, but as we started to shoot… It was just one of those moments of honesty when I was looking in the monitor and I realized that it was not going to live up to the standards we’d already set. At that point, it was better to cut the complexity, simplify, and look for something that would pack as big – if not bigger – of a punch and I think we found it. It’s the moment that probably gets the biggest jump in the entire film. It went back to that idea of “less is more.” People, especially those who gravitate toward this genre, have become desensitized. You can always find the gore fests, but I know I look for something that will – if not scare me – at least startle me. I’m one of those jaded horror fans who have seen almost everything. It’s going to take a lot for me to say, “Yeah, the gore got to me.” The gore never gets to me. It’s the suspense or the thrill or the surprise. That’s what we tried to do with THE TAKEN. And then, just learning that the better the gag, the better startle, the better the shock. You don’t have to keep it on screen that long. Get off of it and keep the story moving.

DC: Jess, being a producer, you’ve got certain things that you worry about – money, time, schedule – and then collaterally, as an actor, you’ve got motivation, trying to make the character live and breathe… Is it tough to balance those things?

JV: Yeah, but now, being a producer, I don’t think I could give it up, but it’s also not something I would suggest to any actor out there who is thinking about the fact that they might want to produce the next film that they’re in. It’s extremely difficult. It’s really difficult to balance the two because I’m in front of the camera and I’m supposed to be fearful of someone ending my life in a brutal fashion and yet I’m also thinking about the fact that food hasn’t arrived and it’s a half an hour into lunch. And even though I know it will get dealt with, I know someone will come in and take care of it and everyone will get fed and everyone will be happy, the fact that that’s still in the back of my mind when I’m acting makes things extremely difficult. Acting in general is emotionally draining. I don’t care what anybody says. Acting is difficult and acting in horror films is even harder. I’m not saying that people working on comedies don’t have their own struggles. All I’m saying is… I’ve heard people in interviews – well-known actors – who have tried horror for the first time and they’ve said that they never knew it was going to be so challenging.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

DC: Well, I think you run at a higher idle.

JV: Right! To be in a position where your life is in peril the entire time and all you’re doing is fighting and fighting and fighting is extremely difficult. In acting classes, they never talk about what to do if or when you get the lead role. It’s always, “Well, you probably won’t, so don’t worry about it.” No one ever explained to me what kind of responsibility came along with having that lead role. It wasn’t until my third or fourth day shooting and we were doing something really tough that I realized, “Holy shit, if no one cares about me, no one’s going to care about this story or this film.” And it’s true… When I watch films, I sometimes think, “I just hate this lead character” and that character is most likely – especially in this genre – female because most of the time the protagonist in horror films is female. Where it gets lost is that the level of sympathy or empathy you’re supposed to be feeling for that character isn’t coming through. A lot of the time that’s part of the demise of the entire film. So, I found that I was in up to my neck on this and I didn’t actually realize how difficult it was going to be. I know a lot of actors fear watching their performance, and though I’ve seen this film through the editing process, I’m actually happy with my performance in THE TAKEN and very proud of what we’ve accomplished.

DC: Can you give me a synopsis of the film?

RV: Six strangers are abducted by a masked man and taken to an abandoned hospital where they are imprisoned in small cages. One by one their captor takes them to the facility’s operating room, where he removes a different organ from each of them. Then, due to a twist of events, the four remaining prisoners are freed from their cages and it becomes a cat and mouse chase through this multi-level building. So, as they are trying to look for a way out of this boarded-up, sealed-off fortress, they are being hunted. They know that if they can connect what they all have in common, they’ll be able to figure out why they’re there and then maybe be able to escape.

DC: The location is great. Can you tell me about it?

RV: We shot in a former state run sanitarium called Northern State Hospital located in Northwest Washington. It is three stories and, for the most part, boarded up and forgotten. It just reeks of character and atmosphere. I shot part of BLOODY MARY there. At that time, we were looking for an operational hospital, so our Art Department picked out the wing that was in the best shape and repainted it and cleaned it up. But to get to that set, we would have to walk through the deteriorating, decaying part of the building. Throughout that summer of shooting BLOODY MARY, every time I would walk through it, I was thinking, “Man, this is the scary side of the building. This is where we should be telling a story.”

DC: It’s similar to Brad Anderson’s Session 9 where you find a place so creepy that no set designer could ever come up with anything like it.

JV: Our Art Director and our Set Designer had a lot to choose from. They could go from room to room and find the craziest shit and suddenly be able to populate the day’s set with some great stuff.

RV: But on the flip side of it, it was not a very forgiving location. There was no running water, no heat…

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

DC: I just remember it being so cold.

RV: There was quite a run to the nearest bathroom that would sometimes be down three flights of stairs and across the courtyard to the one operational building in this complex of buildings. Over this period of time, we shot in the dead of winter, we shot in the spring and there were times in deep winter that – without exaggeration – you would go outside to warm yourself up. It felt warmer outside than it did indoors. A couple of the actresses weren’t wearing much of anything, so for the cage scenes, we would put electric blankets down on the bottom of the cages. For close-ups or any time we would not be showing the bottom of the cages, we tried to make it a little more comfortable for them, but, for the most part, it was not a very glamorous shoot. The actors and the crew were there because they wanted to be.

DC: We don’t want to give away the film’s ending, but it’s very inventive and really ties the whole story together. I’m curious about how you came up with something like that.

RV: Originally, I had a different concept for what THE TAKEN was going to be, but we thought that it was lacking something. It was during a brainstorming session with Jess that we came up with this twist ending and that basically started the writing process all over. I’m one of those screenwriters who starts at the end. I have to have that ending. I have to have that destination or otherwise I’m afraid the roadmap is never going to go anywhere.

DC: And that is usually when a film falls apart – in the third act.

RV: Right… and if you start at the end and work your way backwards, you’ve got a much better chance of building a more complex story for the audience with a more satisfying pay-off. Especially in this genre, especially for the horror fans, we’ve seen it all. With THE TAKEN, we’re not going to fool everybody, but hopefully we’ll show our audience something different.

JV: Something Rick is known for – although he probably won’t admit it – is how he starts his films. All of his films – both made and in script form – always start with something awesome. He’s very good at grabbing the audience’s attention within the first few minutes and being able to do that is extremely important in a genre picture. The market is oversaturated and you need to have people want to pay attention from the beginning.

RV: We made a conscious decision that this was going to be a very fast paced film. If people were going to spend 85 minutes with us, I wanted them to feel like they’d only spent an hour. So, I didn’t want to have any long expository scenes – setting up a story, setting up a back-story. I told the actors that if we were going to reveal character, we were going to be running for our lives when we do it. We were going to keep the story moving forward. Hopefully, we accomplished that.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

DC: Since you brought up your cast, I wanted to ask about them. Where did you find them?

RV: Well, we went through agencies. We had multiple casting calls in Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. We looked all over. A few people came from BLOODY MARY. I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great actors on BLOODY MARY and some of the ones I enjoyed working with most were ones that were in minor roles. So, this gave me an opportunity to work with them again. E.S. Pierce had a brief, ‘blink and you’ll miss him,’ role in BLOODY MARY, but he’s such a pleasure to have on set, such a talented guy, and such a versatile actor that I always intended to put him in the role of Danny and really cast him against type. He is such a sweet teddy bear of a guy and then to cast him as this very unstable nutcase that is on the verge of a breakdown was a lot of fun for everybody. Then, Richard Carmen who played Dr. McCarty in BLOODY MARY came back to play Vance the over-enthusiastic security guard in THE TAKEN. He was only on set with us maybe three days, but he’s one of the more memorable characters. It’s the same thing with Anna Pippus who may be one of the most memorable performers in BLOODY MARY. She played Hilary the catatonic, mirror-fearing former friend of the group of girls and then came back to play Sonya in THE TAKEN. It all gave me the opportunity to go back and work with people I knew and then work with some new people as well. We had a really tight cast. I don’t think there was anybody that I went back and thought, “Wow, I shouldn’t have put them in this film.” It’s the first time I’ve been through an entire production and been able to say that. There’s always going to be one or two who don’t fit into the ensemble. They may look the part. They may have the skill level, but when it comes to meshing with the whole group, it just doesn’t work. That didn’t happen this time. We really got lucky and it was so critical for this because you’ve got a group of strangers who are very incompatible coming from different types of backgrounds and now they have to work together to survive. I love actors. Casting is probably the most fun I have in the entire process because that’s where you’re really seeing characters beginning to come to life. It’s such a collaborative process where the script just gives the actor the bones of the character and they really have to put the flesh on. You never know what they’re going to bring to the table. I’m very open in working with that process. So, I look to an actor to come and bring some of the idiosyncrasies, bring some of the characteristics, find what will make that character human and three-dimensional. Let’s discover that together and with this cast it was easy.

DC: So, Jess… As one of the lead actors, can you talk a bit about how you took those words on the page and made them flesh?

JV: I guess you could say that I don’t really have a process and I’m sure a lot of my acting teachers would cringe when I say that. I started acting before I was ever taught how to act. It always seemed extremely instinctual and when I started putting limitations or boundaries or structure into how I was breaking down characters, I found myself just very overwhelmed and suddenly not able to just focus on the task at hand. Most of the time, I rehearse so I know what’s coming, I know what I’m supposed to be listening to and for and I can get the general idea of it, but I never overwork it for fear that I’m going to be too in my head later on. And when I’ve toyed with it, I just found that it really hasn’t worked for me.

DC: A significant character in the film is the score by Warlock and Bradford. Can you talk about those guys?

RV: They are absolutely amazing. Lance Warlock and Leon Bradford specialize in scores for horror films, but believe me, they have the versatility to score anything. They were a discovery that Jess made on MySpace and when we found out that Lance Warlock is the son of THE Dick Warlock, the famous stuntman who was Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN 2 and was Kurt Russell’s stunt double through the Eighties and Nineties, it was a perfect fit. We met with them in a restaurant halfway between their studio and our house and we had a cut of the film on my iPod and I played it for them in the restaurant, just kind of skipping through and showing them different scenes. I could tell they were getting really, really excited by what they saw.

JV: Then, we just started sending them pieces of the film, as we would lock picture – just sending them scenes, maybe it would be five minutes here or ten minutes there – and they would just start composing. We warned them that we were not musicians and we didn’t speak their language. When it came to talking about the music for the film, we could only talk in terms of emotion and action and moments that we needed something reinforced as far as shock value and those types of things. Lance and Leon were very, very patient with us and were so willing to collaborate. They would just send amazing pieces back and we would drop them in a timeline and listen to it. It was like suddenly seeing the movie new again. We had been watching it all through post-production for a year, watching this cut over and over again, tweaking it, pulling it together and then to finally watch it with music… It was just such an eye-opening experience for us.

RV: Just like with the actors, I was there to give them as much support, as much information as I could, to help structure it, to help move it in the right direction, but I knew I wasn’t there to do their job. So, I gave them a really long leash and…

JV: They were right 95% of the time.

DC: So now that the film is completed, what are the plans for distribution?

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

JV: Currently, we’re doing a limited festival cycle, just focusing on horror-themed festivals. In the past, we made the mistake of taking horror films to mainstream festivals and it just doesn’t work. The audience base isn’t there. We just played Fright Night in Louisville, Kentucky and the film won the Best Of The Fest Award, Brian Sipe who did our FX won the Best Special FX Practical Award and I won for Best Actress. In September, we’re in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the inaugural Oklahoma Horror Film Festival where the film has been nominated for ten awards.

DC: Now that The Taken is done, what’s next for you guys?

RV: I’m finishing a script now called THE INCIDENT AT HOLLOW HOUSE which is somewhat a tribute to the supernatural films of the Seventies like THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE EVIL, films that really scared the pants off of me when I was a kid. Again, it will feature an ensemble cast… a group of incompatible strangers that find themselves sitting on one of the legendary portals to Hell. So, we’re hoping to be moving into production on that by the middle of next year.

DC: I think doing a pure supernatural film is wise. So much of the genre these days is either anemic vampires or the same old Night Of The Living Dead scenario setting for zombies, but at some point, you as a creative person have to ask yourself what is the next thing people will want to see? Do you think that supernatural films are that next thing?

RV: If you’re to be successful in this or any genre, you can’t chase the bus. I don’t think you can ever hope to drive the bus, either. You just have to make the film you want to see and trust that there are going to be like-minded fans who want to see that. I don’t know what the next wave is. I don’t even know if some Seventies throwback supernatural film will have an audience, but I’m trusting that if it’s something I found influential and affected me in my youth, that there will be others out there who do as well.

JV: My main focus – no matter what the next project is – to generate something that is genuinely scary. We’ve spent a lot of time researching and talking with people about what they find frightening. That’s our main goal for this next project, to be able to accomplish that.

DC: And you’re already batting around ideas for The Taken?

RV: There’s a synopsis…

JV: You might already say that there’s a script. [laughs]

RV: There’s a script available. I don’t want to do this one as low budget as the original, but we’ve got some new ideas for it, which are very similar in theme and tone and pace to the first one, but again being able to throw in some brand new ideas without suddenly making it a cliché.

JV: It’s something that horror fans will definitely appreciate.

DC: Will there be any change in tone? Will you go… “wetter”?

RV: Oh, yeah… [laughs] Once you see how the first one ends, you’ll wonder how a sequel is possible, but… It’s going to be much more of a rollercoaster and a very wet rollercoaster at that.

DC: So if anyone wanted to talk to you about screening the film at their festival or if any potential distributors wanted to contact you, they could do so…

JV: They could contact me through the Valentine Entertainment website. Our email address is on there. That’s how everyone has contacted us thus far and it’s been very successful.

DC: And The Taken’s trailer can be seen…

RV: At the official Taken website.

JV. After we do finish the festival cycle, our focus is to secure domestic distribution with a company that specializes in and caters to horror films. Then we’ll move into foreign distribution at the American Film Market to sell off the foreign territories. Our hope is that you will see THE TAKEN on the shelves very soon.

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Richard Valentine and Jessica Von Talk The Taken; Exclusive New Images

Carnell

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Carnell