Clint Carney is a musician, writer and actor who began working in film as a visual artist. In Dry Blood, he pairs up with actor/producer Kelton Jones for the psychologically twisted independent horror film that tells the story of Brian Barnes (played by Carney), an addict who decides to go to a remote cabin to get sober. The film unfolds from Brian’s viewpoint as he appears to descend into madness when he begins seeing ghostly figures at the cabin.
Directed by Jones, who also stars in the film, along with Rob Galluzzo of Dread Central Presents, Dry Blood is darkly humorous and features some outstanding practical effects.
Dread Central had the pleasure of speaking with Clint Carney and Kelton Jones about the inspiration for the insane story, the magic behind the practical effects, and much more! Read on to find out what we talked about.
Dry Blood is being released by Epic Pictures and Dread Central Presents and will be available on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD January 15th. Pre-orders are available through Epic Pictures.
The film will also be playing at the Film Bar in Phoenix, AZ on January 25. More information can be found here.
Dread Central: Clint, I think Dry Blood is such an original horror film and I like that it’s told with dark humor. What inspired you to write this story?
Clint Carney: I’m constantly writing. With this particular script, I wanted to tell a ghost story from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, where if you’re experiencing the film through the narrator’s eyes, you’re never really quite sure if he’s seeing ghosts or if it’s all in his head. Then I came up with the idea of having the cop character in the film. You never quite know who the bad guy is as the film unfolds. You don’t really know if the ghosts are real or who is good and who is bad, because you can’t really trust the person who is delivering the story.
DC: How did you guys meet and how did you decide that you wanted to make this movie?
Clint Carney: I started a writing group for screenwriters here in Los Angeles and a mutual writer/director friend of ours, Chad Michael Ward, was also starting a writing group. The two groups merged and that’s how I met Kelton. Originally, I had brought a punk rock, crime drama into the group and Kelton read that and we decided we wanted to try and make that film, but for various reasons we ended up switching gears to Dry Blood and that’s how it all started.
Kelton Jones: I joined the writing group to work on my own screenwriting, but also to meet other screenwriters that I could collaborate with. When I read Clint’s first script, I was blown away by how brilliant it was and I was like, “This is something we could shoot right now. This is really brilliant.” It was through sort of developing it that we realized it needed a much larger budget. We wanted to have all the licensing to be able to use the great punk rock songs that were so important to us growing up and to the film. We realized that it made sense to do something that was a little bit more manageable to start out with so that we could go on to make bigger and more expensive films. So, we put together Dry Blood based on something that we could kind of do ourselves without relying on a lot of big name cast members and huge locations and tons of extras and really just focusing on the story and the psychological elements of it.
DC: Kelton, what was it like to direct and star in the film at the same time?
KJ: It was not my idea to be in the film (laughs), nor was it Clint’s. We were talking about who we ideally wanted to be in the cast. I had a done a music video for Clint, for his band, and I was really blown away with his stage presence. I’d seen him onstage performing as well, so I knew that when he would create this persona for his music, he had this amazing energy that people were drawn to. So, I knew he could bring that to the film, but also there’s a dedication to the story and there’s an understanding of the story that just made for such a great beginning point for that. I talked him into being in it and he was like, “You know, you’ve got to tell me if I’m not up to par because it’s important for this to be good. If at any point you feel like I’m not up to this, you tell me and we’ll get somebody else.” So, we kind of had that agreement going into it.
Then we were talking about who we wanted for the sheriff and he said, “You should play the sheriff. “ I said, “No, I’m not going to be in a film I’m directing. That’s just too weird.” Clint was like, “I tell you what. If you do this, you get to die and we save a lot of money.” And I said, “Ok, sold.” (laughter) This is a bit of a spoiler alert, but it’s understandable that the villain doesn’t survive the end of the movie. I will give you that. So, we both went into it with the agreement that if either one of us wasn’t up to par, we would replace ourselves with somebody who was better at it. (laughter)
DC: Clint, there are several times in the film when you wonder if Brian is going through withdrawal or mentally ill, and if the ghosts are real. Did you do any research or anything special to get into the mindset of an addict?
CC: Not specifically. I think just life experience as you live your life you come into contact with people who have gone through those problems. I’ve had friends who have been through things, but not to that degree. I think most adults at some point in their lives have known an addict of some sort. I kind of knew what some of the behavior in that situation could be like. This character has compound problems of additional mental illness on top of his drug addiction. It was really just based on my observations of people I’ve known or had come into contact with over the years, that sort of thing.
DC: Kelton, I thought the special effects were incredibly well done! How did you and the makeup artists work together to come up with the effects for scenes like when Brian shoots the sheriff? That was my favorite effect. Can you tell me about shooting that scene?
KJ: The earliest discussions we had about it were about making sure the practical effects would be amazing. Clint and I were both huge fans of horror films growing up and the ones that we were really always drawn to were the ones that had the great practical effects, like An American Werewolf in London. We really wanted to have that for the audiences because this is really a love letter to the genre. We love horror films and we wanted to do something that really spoke to the fans. Clint and I talked a great deal about what we were going for with all of the effects. We watched a lot of films we hadn’t seen in a while. We found a really brilliant prosthetic makeup artist who could do the builds for us and the casts and molds of everyone. Clint is an amazing surrealist artist as well, so he had a lot to do with it. One of the first people we brought in on the project was the practical makeup artist. The makeup was the biggest line item in the budget and it was really important to us that we get that right. Clint gave the makeup artists tons of reference photos that he had researched and found.
CC: When I first started filmmaking when I was just a kid I really wanted to be a special effects makeup artist, so I knew enough about the process to have a pretty good, informed conversation with our makeup team. Chad Engel and Sioux Sinclair were our practical effects makeup team on the film. I’m also a visual effects artist, so I ended up doing the visual effects which were sometimes combined with the practical effects. So, a lot of it was Kelton, Chad, Sioux, and me talking and planning the effects beforehand so that we could shoot it in the best possible way to make sure it looked great onscreen. For example, if you want to remove part of someone’s body, you can only do so much with a prosthetic, so we did some digital effects over the practical effects just to remove some of the elements.
KJ: It really started with the practical effects and that gave us a strong basis. My wife is also a makeup artist and she did a lot of the beauty makeup on the set. I had actually worked quite a bit in visual effects on the camera side of things. I did camera and lighting on Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and tons of other films where we were doing a lot of effects work. So, Clint and I both went in with a really good understanding of what we could get away with and what we needed to do to sell it, which gave us a pretty good advantage, but we definitely approached it from the idea of keep it as real as possible.
CC: Our goal was to use as much practical effects as possible and then the visual effects, you want to be invisible to the audience. The sheriff getting shot is the turning point in the film. Everything is fairly tame up until that point, but once that scene happens, there is a definite shift in tone in the audience. Seeing the film at the festivals, especially when that scene happened, it was really great to see the audience react to that. It was such a visceral reaction to what was happening onscreen, so that was a cool moment. We were like, “Oh, shit! We did that right!”
KJ: When we did that scene, we placed all of our blood tubes, but we sort of placed them with me sitting upright and I’m lying down in some of it. So, what ended up happening was when we shot the scene, the blood shot right up my nose! I was actually choking on the blood and just trying to get through the take before the panic of drowning kicked in (laughs). So, some of the blood on Clint’s face was actually what I was coughing up. It was pretty brutal and I just thought, “I’ve got to get this take right before I lose consciousness.” (laughter)
CC: At a certain point, Kelton is coughing up blood and it sprays me in the face. Earlier in that scene, I didn’t have blood on my face, so I did actually have to digitally track some blood onto my face so that the shots matched (laughs).
DC: I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but I thought it was clever that there is a conversation between the sheriff and the convenience store clerk, played by Rob Galluzzo, that gives some foreshadowing about where the story is going. Why did you decide to include that scene in the film?CC: Funny story (laughs). I’m also a musician in a band, called System Syn, and I wrote an album called “All Seasons Pass”, which was an album that follows a true crime story. I also wrote a novella that went with the album that went more in-depth to the backstory. The story the sheriff is telling is actually from that novella. I included that in the script because I could see the parallels with where Dry Blood was going and I thought it would be interesting to have it exist within the same world. That’s a little random Easter egg in there that no one will ever get except for the handful of people that read my novella (laughs).
KJ: And everybody who reads this article! (laughter)
CC: Maybe my book sales will surge (laughs). It kind of adds an element of foreshadowing, even though it’s a different crime that they’re talking about. But there is so much that just worked with what was going to happen in the film. Also, I think it’s one of those things where after you see where the film is going, you can reflect on that conversation and draw those parallels yourself.
KJ: We also had Rob wear a couple of System Syn t-shirts in the film, which is kind of a nice little nod to the fan base. A lot of our early supporters of the film were fans of Clint’s music and a lot of his fan base was responsible for helping us get a lot of the initial interest. Some of the people who backed the film were fans of his art and his music. So, it’s a bit of a nod to his early fans as well.