Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I Don't Mind the Sun Sometimes, the Images It Shows

It's not too late to subscribe to my secret e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP--information is in the sidebar to the right.  This post first appeared there earlier.

In my secret e-newsletter last week I tried to make a joke about all the little details in making THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE--finding a rotary phone, some fake guns, and some rope--and suddenly people were messaging me offering me fake guns and rotary phones.  An old friend wrote me "you've made a lot of friends along the way," and that's probably the most flattering thing anyone has said to me in a while.

Nobody has offered me any rope, so I guess trust in our friendship only goes so far.

It has been cool to see other people pop up in offering help, from all corners, and I appreciate it all.

The mask for The Crawlspace Killer arrived from my pal Tim Shrum all the way in Oklahoma, and the dogs immediately hated it.  But when I sent a photo to my lead actors--Erin Ryan, John Hambrick, Joni Durian--they all three wrote back with some variation of "It's scary.  I love it."  Which made me think I have the right cast.

I hope it is all the little details that make the movie interesting to people.  At least I've tried to make things interesting to me.  I kept bragging on myself that I had written a movie easy to shoot, and then realized I wrote in a town sheriff, who has to wear a uniform.  So I got on Amazon and bought all the police-y parts, and then got on eBay and looked for vintage patches, since I want everything to have a throwback look. 

I found this patch from Milton, Indiana, where my father-in-law grew up and his mother (my wife's grandmother) was the town librarian.  I believe the library is still there, but I'm sure they don't have a police department any more, and practically nothing else is there either, including the house my father-in-law grew up in and the school he graduated from.  So I thought I would give a little shout-out to Milton in my movie.

Indiana people know that Milton is probably an hour from where the movie takes place, so there is no way the sheriff of Milton is involved with The Crawlspace Killer in Mooreland.  But I'm just going to keep it real, gentle viewer, if you end up thinking this is the most unbelievable thing in the movie, I'll be happy.This coming weekend, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat for live updates from the set.  I'm at johnoakdalton in all those places.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

For All The World Like An Urban Toreador

If you wished you had seen this post earlier, you can subscribe to my newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP in the right column of this blog, where this post first appeared last weekend.

Two weeks from today I will be shooting THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE, the first of five days of principal photography.  Here is another nice write-up I received leading up to the shoot.  I have been extremely flattered by gaining more than a dozen new newsletter subscribers since this piece and the article from Horror Society came out.  Thanks for joining me.

I will be getting the social media train running during the shoot, mostly on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, and I am johnoakdalton in all of those places, if you would like to follow along.

Another flattering thing is how many people have wanted to be an extra.  Sadly there is no extra anything in this first go-round.  I wrote this movie to be as tight as can be, so there are no crowd scenes.  In fact about 80 percent of the movie will be shot at my own house, with four people.  Definitely trying to make this monster manageable.

I will try to put some value added content in this secret newsletter for subscribers, so here's some.  I got to know Tim Shrum when he ran a Polonia Brothers Fan Club (and now through House of Schlock, where he makes a lot of cool stuff).  I knew he also crash-built a lot of props and the like and I asked him if he had any scary masks laying around I could use for The Crawlspace Killer.  Tim decided to build me a unique one for the film, and it looks pretty creepy.  Here is just a sneak peek.
I have had a couple of long talks with producer Henrique Couto over the last few days, and a nice lunchtime chat with John Hambrick (who plays one of the four people who will spend a lot of time at my house soon), who finally asked about the enigmatic ending, to which I answered, "What do YOU think happened?"  Somewhere, somebody is already typing an Amazon review that reads "Saw that ending coming a mile away."

I need to break some scenes down, and find an old rotary phone for a prop, and get a rope and some fake guns without getting on a watchlist.  Talk soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Veteran of the Psychic Wars

This post is from my secret e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP, which you can subscribe to in the sidebar to your right.

Since Horror Society announced my directorial debut, THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE, about a week ago, all of a sudden the production seems like an avalanche coming down a mountain.  We are technically underway, as my friend actor Jeff Kirkendall has already sent his part via Dropbox from way off in upstate New York; a part on the phone, playing an aggressive movie agent (as if there was another kind).

By the way, if you want to see why I wanted Jeff in my movie, check out one I wrote called JURASSIC PREY, where if you look past the rubber monsters has a good part for Jeff as a washed-up child star in the middle of a botched robbery.

Erin Ryan, who plays the title role in my film, has phoned me about her character, and run lines with John Hambrick, who plays her therapist's husband, inadvertent foil, and reluctant hero.  And I am talking to cast and crew about dietary restrictions, travel plans, and more.

Admittedly this project has had a much longer run-up than most any b-movie I have worked on, because I was afraid to schedule much over the winter.  Which has proven to be the right thing to do, as I am writing this from rural Indiana, instead of in Chicago where I am supposed to be, if I wasn't thwarted by ice here and over a foot of snow there.  I am just hoping March comes in like a lamb.

Also, the IMDB page is live, so it must be a real movie.

Even though I tried to write the easiest movie I could--about 80 percent of it takes place in my own house, a mid-century modern on a couple of acres of pasture in rural Indiana--there are still a lot of moving parts, and a great amount of time devoted to it, so I'm glad I wrote something I really wanted to make.  Despite the grindhouse trappings I'd like to think it's about the redemptive power of storytelling--but we will see what the world thinks soon enough.

More about the movie as we get even closer.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

All I Gotta Do Is Act Naturally

This post first appeared in my e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP, which you can subscribe to in the right column of this blog.

Yesterday I soft-launched the news about my directorial debut feature to a couple of trusted friends in the horror news and reviews business, and my pal Matt Storc at Horror Society jumped right on it.  So the news is out that I am directing THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE with my old friend Henrique Couto producing.

Director Henrique Couto (BABYSITTER MASSACRE) and screenwriter John Oak Dalton (HAUNTED HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW) are teaming up for the fifth time on one of Dalton’s screenplays—only this time they are wearing different hats, with Couto producing (and serving as Director of Photography) and Dalton directing. THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE will begin shooting this spring in rural Indiana.
"John Dalton is one of my favorite collaborators, so helping him take the director's chair was a no brainer for me," Couto said.
“I have wanted to jump over to the director’s chair for a while, after working on the sets of some of the movies made from my screenplays,” Dalton said. “This is a script I feel strongly about, one that I have wanted to get out there.”
Erin Ryan (CALAMITY JANE’S REVENGE) will play the title character, Jill. At the outset, Jill escapes from a notorious serial killer who has kept her prisoner in a crawlspace. She tries to work her way back to normal with the help of a therapist, but becomes inserted into the therapist’s strained marriage with a failing screenwriter. Joni Durian (ALONE IN THE GHOST HOUSE) and John Hambrick (SCAREWAVES) play the troubled couple.
Others in the cast include Tom Cherry, Rachael Redolfi, Jeff Kirkendall, Joe Kidd, Iabou Windimere, Chelsi Kern and fellow director Andrew Shearer.
“It’s psychological horror, with hopefully some good twists and turns,” Dalton said.
Prolific b-movie director Mark Polonia , who Dalton has penned seven screenplays for--including JURASSIC PREY and AMITYVILLE DEATH HOUSE--has signed on to edit. This marks the second time Dalton, Couto, and Polonia have collaborated after this summer’s Bigfoot movie IN SEARCH OF.
THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE is slated for release in 2018

Readers following closely at home might realize this is THE GIRL WITH THE GRINDHOUSE HEART, renamed.  I wrote this screenplay in the fall thinking I might direct it--it features my Mid-Century Modern house prominently, a small cast, and nothing too hard to figure out in the staging (I think).  I have wanted to direct a movie for quite a few years, but the timing has never been right.  After spending some time this summer on the set of IN SEARCH OF, and paying close attention to Mark and Henrique's work, I thought the stars might be in alignment.

I knew if I did it I would have to gather my tribe--all the people I have wanted to work with whose names I tucked away over the years.  I knew I wanted to write the central part for Erin Ryan, and I knew I would write a part for my old friend Tom Cherry, who does local civic theater and public access television and an old-time-style radio show (he's going to play the town sheriff).  Mark and Henrique have been my closest collaborators--I've written about a dozen movies combined for both of them--but I also wanted to seek out my old microcinema friend Jon Solita, b-movie director Andrew Shearer (who was the first to congratulate me when I came out of self-imposed exile a few years ago and started writing again), actors Jeff Kirkendall (who lives in New York state, so you will hear him on the telephone), John Hambrick, and Joni Durian, and a lot more.  There are all the actors I've met in Dayton, and some other b-movie friends who I hope can contribute yet.

Some I reached out to can't be there this time, either through their own timing or more often geography, but that's why I am working on WOKE UP BLEEDING when this one isn't consuming my free hours, because the old adage goes when you are working on a movie you have to be able to tell people you have another one going.

I'm glad the news is out, and I can talk about everything going on as we close in on the first weekend in March and start rolling.  Stick around and I promise to have behind-the-scenes stuff here throughout the process.