This past Wednesday, March 16, Dread hit the set of filmmaker Paul Ward’s horror flick One for the Road for an exclusive look at the project, which at the time was shooting in the cold environs of Crestline, California.
While there, we got a chance to chat with Ward and the project’s producer, Tim Sullivan (director of 2001 Maniacs and 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams), as well as to witness the vampiric creature creations of Tom Devlin (Syfy’s “Face Off”) and a bit of impressive and unintended pyromania. too, by the rather bemused latter.
Produced by Sullivan (under his New Rebellion Entertainment banner) as the second in his series of ‘Tim Sullivan Presents’ projects (initiated with the upcoming psychological thriller Cut/Print), this short film adaptation of Stephen King’s One for the Road (the original story stands as a sequel to Salem’s Lot) was written and directed by award-winning Irish filmmaker Paul Ward (Fur Coat and No Knickers) and stars horror vet Reggie Bannister (Phantasm) as well as actors Danny O’Connor, Adam Robitel (2001 Maniacs alumna), Audrey Walters, Drew Walters and Karen Andrews (who also recorded the short film’s theme song, “Stepping Into Forever”). One for the Road also serves to reunite Sullivan with Bloody Bloody Bible Camp producer Gigi Bannister and cinematographer Mike Bates as well as Chillerama “I Was A Teenage Werebear” producers and fellow directors Ward, Gavin Heffernan and Brian McCulley.
“The tale is narrated in the first person by Booth (Robitel), who’s a resident of the town that neighbors Jerusalem’s Lot,” Sullivan (who, in addition to 2001 Maniacs, helmed its sequel as well as having served as host of the VH1 reality series “Scream Queens 2″) told us of his take on One for the Road. “The main part of the story is set a couple of years after the events of Salem’s Lot, where Booth describes a night when he and his friend, a bar owner named Herb (Bannister), tried to rescue the family of a motorist (O’Connor) whose vehicle had become stranded in a blizzard. Even though everyone knows that ‘the Lot’ has gone bad, the two still decide to drive out in a snowplow to save his family. When they get there, though, they find that the man’s wife (Audrey Walters) and son (Drew Walters) have become vampires.”
Privately funded, the micro-budgeted One for the Road was clearly, given the timbre on set, a labor of love for all of those involved, and Sullivan commented when queried of his motivation to produce such an ambitiously challenging short, “It came from, or maybe despite of, the challenges and limited budgets on both my projects Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and I Was a Teenage Werebear. Those projects epitomized the reason I do what I do in the first place. They were films made by horror fans for horror fans with the emphasis on passion and camaraderie and a true love for the material. While making Werebear, Paul, Gavin, Brian and I constantly felt like kids in a monster fan club doing for a living what we would be doing just for fun. Taking that clubhouse mentality, the four of us have formed an alliance, an ensemble dedicated to nurturing each other’s directorial visions as producers. What better way to carry on that alliance than with Stephen King, an incomparable master who has inspired us all, particularly Paul, whose atmospheric, elegant take on King’s story grabbed me the moment I read it. We aim to make King proud.”
Shooting at night and on location at the time of our visit, One for the Road was being filmed on Canon Digitals 5 and 7 with cinematography by Mike Bates (with Gavin Heffernan on second unit), and catching up with director Ward, the director commented on the look of the footage thus far as he prepped a shot.
“We were meant to shoot in the snow,” said Ward, “but it had all melted so we changed the script to fog, and it looks amazing – from that challenge came an artistic thing, which is perfect for us low-budget filmmakers. Mike is giving it a beautiful and natural look that I think will be stunning in the final version.”
As for the previously mentioned Devlin-created fireball, regardless of the lack of snow, ambient temperature was what one would predict (meaning low), and not long after we arrived to set, the duly shivering effects artist decided to stoke the on-location firepit with a bit of alcohol to escape the chill. Unfortunately for him, while the fire indeed was fed by the accelerant, so was the bottle of Hennessy he held, and seconds later the crew rushed to him with water bottles and a fire extinguisher to douse the subsequent blaze. Fortunately, the only thing wounded was Devlin’s ego.
“That fireball would have made Gene Simmons proud,” chuckled Sullivan just following Devlin’s foray into accidental pyrotechnics. “Luckily, there’s lots of bottled water on hand so no harm, no foul. It’s now just a story Tom will never live down!”
Of the shoot (with this one obvious exception), director Ward reflected between takes, “It’s been very relaxed. We started on the big scene in the bar on the first day and also shot the material that day for our official music video for One for the Road as well. The second day we did all the interiors of the car in a small soundstage, using what is called the ‘Poor Man’s Process’ (cinematic sleight of hand intended to portray a moving vehicle), but it looked amazing with the fog and the lights flying past. Today we moved to the ranch and started all the suspense and the vampire stuff, what we call the ‘fun stuff’, and it’s been great fun. I’m absolutely thrilled with the makeup from the brilliant Tom (Devlin) and his assistants (Andrea Wiersma and Jacky Belle).”
Concerning the look of the vampire menace at the center of Ward’s One for the Road, “The idea was to go for a look reminiscent of Tobe Hooper’s original Salem’s Lot,” explained Sullivan, as Wiersma and Belle put the final touches on the ‘Mother Vampire’ only feet away. “We wanted the ‘Nosferatu’ look, and to take the vampires back to a more frightening and animalistic conception, versus the Twilight ‘abs and glitter’ thing! Tom and his team have come through in spades.”
“Tomorrow will be the last day,” chimed in Ward regarding the effects and production with a wink, “and we’ll be shooting more action and suspense, and the big vampire kill scene. Blood will be flying, and we expect the cast to be drenched – and we also expect a large dry-cleaning bill.”
“I must say, this is the way to make movies,” Sullivan ruminated on the production and the location itself. “A small crew made up of dedicated professionals and assisted by eager layman, in this case Bob and Tobi Yeomans and their daughters, Megan and Sarah, who own this location. I had filmed Bloody Bloody Bible Camp here last year, and we all hit it off great. It truly is one-stop shopping with Bob and Tobi – between locations, props, a hearty meal or just plain emotional support during these long, cold nights of filming, these guys truly are the best cheerleaders you could want on your film set. In fact, I have officially made Bob my ‘consigliere’ on all future productions.”
Ward plans to have post-production on One for the Road completed by summer of 2010 with editing overseen by John King (with input by Sullivan). Regarding distribution of the short, the director stated, “We will show it in festivals as per the contract with Stephen King and eventual digital distribution. We hope to do more King stories in the future.”
As for what else is on One for the Road producer Sullivan’s plate (the man is rather prolific in the genre), “Both (films) Chillerama and Cut/Print are in their final stages of pre-production and should be ready to unleash very soon. My Shock ’N Roll column has been keeping me very busy over at FEARnet, which I love because I will never let go of my journalistic roots, and it allows me to indulge them. Always looking to the filmic future, however, up next is a trio of flicks which I will be producing as part of ‘Tim Sullivan Presents’.”
Sullivan remained coy pertaining to plot details of those projects, although he was rather open regarding the possibility of another season of VH1’s “Scream Queens”.
“Sadly, I have been informed there will not be another season of ‘Scream Queens’,” he concluded. “It’s typical of a network to not promote or market a show and then cancel it because the ratings aren’t as high as they had hoped. But it was a good run. So much came out of it for me, and I am currently in development on a top secret spin-off.”
Look for more soon! One For the Road will premiere at the Dublin Horrothon in October of 2011.
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