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With Christian Ackerman’s supernatural short The Summoners set for its world premiere Monday, October 14, at 9:45pm at Screamfest LA, read on for our exclusive chat with the filmmaker, and have a look at some stills!
Produced by Tony E. Valenzuela and Brett Annese from a script by Ackerman and Chuck Foster, The Summoners stars Trista Robinson (The Human Race), Wendy McColm and Erin McIntosh as three high school girls who join in a secret game of summoning spirits for the thrill of being possessed.
Speaking with director Ackerman (whose award-winning short Hell’s Belles we debuted on Dread Central last year; see it here), he told us of the beginnings of The Summoners, “My writing partner, Chuck, and I had been kicking around an idea for a supernatural short, trying to find a way to transcend the norms. Once we came up with the idea of purposefully getting possessed for the fun of it, we knew it was an attention grabber and easy to pitch. Luckily, the producers, Tony E. Valenzuela and Brett Annese at BlackBoxTV, agreed, and they fast-tracked it!”
Having shot the film in one day in Los Angeles, Ackerman recalled of the shoot, “About ten hours into shooting a five-and-a-half-page script, we were only about halfway done. It was a mad scramble to get the final few pages done in which we had fights, stunts, and a girl suspended in mid-air, all with the location rented for only that day. If I didn’t get it all, the entire film would have fallen apart. Luckily, the crew stuck it out, the location let us stay a bit longer and we got what we needed.”
”We ended up editing on Final Cut Pro 7, the last good version of that program,” said Ackerman of post-production on The Summoners, “but it doesn’t read footage shot on the Red, so going back to master the raw footage for a DCP proved to be a logistical nightmare. This will be the last film I cut on FCP. It’s time to move on!”
As for the current status of the intended feature version of Hell’s Belles, “The script is making the festival and contest rounds right now,” he stated. “We placed in the top ten percent of the Austin Film Festival out of 8,600 scripts and in the finals of the New Orleans Horror Film Festival, the New York Screenplay Contest, and the Hollywood Screenplay Contest, and it won Best Screenplay at Zedfest. Chuck [Foster] and I are now pushing to find representation and producers willing to fund it!”
Regarding his thoughts as they pertain to the Screamfest selection of The Summoners, Ackerman stated, “Since I’m such a big fan of Screamfest, I’ve wanted to have a film play there for a long time. It’s quite an honor for The Summoners to be included! I’m really looking forward to seeing what directions filmmakers are taking horror in this year. I plan on using my festival pass until it’s worn out!”
For more on Screamfest, which runs October 8th to the 17th at the Laemmle NoHo 7 (5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601), visit Screamfest’s website, “like” Screamfest on Facebook, and follow Screamfest on Twitter.
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