Your new movie The
Incantation - in a few words, what is it about?
It's a gothic fairy tale about a young American girl who travels to
France for her Great Uncle's passing. While there, she starts to uncover
her family's dark secrets.
were your sources of inspiration when writing The
Well there were several. My
brother's 10 years older than me, so I grew up on a heavy helping of Hammer
films as well as classics like Rosemary's Baby, The Shining, and staples like the original
The Exorcist, The Amityville
Horror and The Omen, and
To what extent could you actually
identify with your film's lead character Lucy?
Well I have
traveled a lot. So I know that feeling of general discomfort upon arriving
in a completely new culture. But it's also intriguing. everything from
food, to mannerisms to language is literally foreign to
you, but the more you immerse yourself, the more curious you become. It's simultaneously daunting
and exciting. Also, like Lucy, when you are somewhere where there's
is no chance of meeting someone you know, you can let your proverbial hair
down and stop pretending to be something you are not.
words about your movie's approach to horror?
Well it's very
polarizing, especially as a first venture into original content. People
tend to love it or hate it. But rather than blood and guts
and sex, we tend to treat the audience as adults. We have a
smattering of those things, but it's more of a slow burn with a great
pay off, and is riddled with clues throughout that aid the backstory.
But if you truly immerse yourself in the story, there is quite a
"herstory" being told. Perhaps one that insists on a
You filmed The
Incantation on location in France - why there (even if that's
obvious upon viewing the film), and what were the challenges filming
Filming in France was one of those serendipitous
happenstances. The main location, Castle Borley (known as Dunderry
Castle in the real world) fell into our laps. That was a huge piece of the
puzzle to getting the film made. Filming in France was a challenge, but
ultimately a blessing in disguise. In addition to normal things like
language barriers and travel, as well as the occasional flood or
union strike, the French tend to be way more laid back than
Americans. So for example shops would not post hours, or just not stick
to them at all, or people would take two hour lunch breaks with their favorite
wine. A very pleasant and laid back lifestyle, but not necessarily a
production-friendly one. That being said, they were extremely generous and
entire communities offered their time and resources. It was an incredible
experience and next time I will be more prepared for the
Do talk about your overall directorial approach
to your story at hand!
My approach was
to have a strong story out the gate. It was important to me to
have the full setting of a believable world. Real life locations was
part of it, but creating an atmosphere steeped in part historical
accuracy and part folklore, and then to couple that with
amazing production design and the tropes of classic horror films, was
You also play one of the key
roles in The Incantation
- so do talk about your character, and have you written him with yourself
in mind from the get-go?
Well I have been an actor since my
adolescence. So I knew I could pull it off. I just didn't know
in what capacity I would be needed in the script. I also knew I would
have my hands full with directing, so I wanted it to be a meaty role, but
one that wouldn't require all of my time on set. What most people don't
know about me is that I had a long history in the Catholic Seminary.
I actually studied to be a priest for a huge portion of my
formative years. So that meant I could fall back on my
theological upbringing and classical literature background.
Throw in a dash of Rasputin and a smidge of Christopher Lee and
voila!, The Vicar of Borley was born. There's a reason his speech pattern
is antiquated and his vocabulary archaic. If you take
that at face value, it might be a turn off, but the ending reveals
some reasons why he's an "old school" villain.
Beatrice Orro, Dean Cain, Jude S. Walko
What can you tell us about the
rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Dean Cain, Superman! What can
I say. He's brilliant, congenial and a consummate professional. I had
done Dean a scheduling favor about 10 years earlier, on a film we shot in
Texas. I thought he'd never remember me. But much to my surprise, not only
did he remember, but he agreed to help me out. Dean is a very polarizing
person as he is very vocal about his political beliefs. That means we get
an equal amount of supporters and haters. But that being said, he's a
wonderful person, and a joy to have on any set. He would truly
give you the shirt off his back. I'll say as I was writing the character,
I couldn't picture anyone but Dean, but he didn't fully commit until about
10 days before shooting. I think I willed him into the project.
Sam Valentine was a
diamond in a haystack. (If that's not a saying it should be!) My great friend
Valerie McCaffrey agreed to help me with casting. Her resume is longer
than mine and she's responsible for gems like American History
X and Hard Candy. We had a hard time finding the right
person, as there was a lot of big shows casting at the time, and lets
face it who wants to spend a month in a castle with a bunch of dudes she's
never met? Isn't that horror movies usually start? But Sam, like her
character, was independent, adventurous and willing to take a chance. When
Dan Campbell, my producing partner at Blue Falcon
Productions, saw her
tape we immediately called each other. I think the call lasted all of
about 30 seconds. We had found our Lucy.
Dylan Kellogg came out of
Paris. Originally I had searched everywhere for the handsome Brom Bones
to her Katrina Van Tassle. But once Dylan arrived in the pile of auditions
I started to rethink it. Being that the movie climaxes as it does, it
started to make much more sense as the likable everyman, as opposed
to the strapping super hero. I think Dylan grew the most throughout
the duration of the film and I really am proud of how he opened
up. I'm looking forward to big things from him, and definitely
want to use him in the future, as he hones his craft.
Beatrice Orro is a real life witch. She has a very holistic approach
to life and anyone who knows her can tell you she immediately casts
a spell on you. She is delightfully bewitching in all the right ways
and was an extreme joy to work with.
words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Work hard. Play hard. Dan
and I spent over two months in that castle and everyone
else at least a month. That meant we became family over the course of the
pre-production and filming. I personally didn't have a lot of time to fraternize as
I would go over the shotlist at night as well as watch the footage
twice a day, to make sure we got everything. Then it was up early
every morning to walk the sets with the DP, and rehearse the actors. God forbid,
I was shooting as an actor that day, then that would mean an
additional level of lines, backstory and character development.
But everyone else bonded
immensely. We would go to Brocantes (French flea markets), concerts on the
river, shopping trips and the occasional amusement
park or laser tag. It was great. The castle is huge. So you could either
get lost for some much needed quiet time or go find the common areas for imbibing
of your favorite beer or spirit, play pool, read books or eat.
Being rural France, the internet wasn't great, so that forced us into good
old fashioned entertainment like archery and ghost tales by the
fireplace. I loved it. It helped is also develop our most endearing hashtag;
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
Everywhere in the USA
& Canada and soon the world! (INSERT MANIACAL EVIL GENIUS LAUGH.)
It's available to rent or buy on DVD or Blu-ray on Amazon Prime
Video and iTunes, as well as several outlets on-line like Target,
Fandango, YouTube movies, Barnes & Noble, Walmart and Best Buy
and over 35 other platforms. It's also available to rent in Redbox
kiosks or Family Videos. Yes they still exists.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The
As I mentioned before it's
very polarizing. I think kids find it too slow for their taste. Not enough
dismemberment and lady parts to keep them focused. But a mature audience
loves it. It's definitely a thinking film and requires you to
take it for more than face value. True fans of the genre are willing to
focus on the details and appreciate the subtle references and Easter eggs throughout.
They love the homages to classic horror films and everyone seems to
like the payoff. Don't forget to continue watching through the
credits for another nod to a classic, and a continuation of Lucy's story.
Any future projects you'd like
Yes. We have several scripts in development.
But one that seems to continue to get A++ coverage is The Unhallowed
Horseman. It's a contemporary retelling of The Legend of
Sleepy Hollow with a story that has yet to be told. It is also extremely
marketable and can perhaps prove to lead to a franchise. But we also have
other stories of differing genres like To Protect & To
Serve that revolves around a Waco-esque standoff type situation,
and The Racketeer, which is a Scorcese-style mafia film. There
are many to explore, if investors are interested.
You started out as an actor - so what got oyu
into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal education
on the subject?
Oddly enough I started out training to be a
priest. So public speaking in front of large groups of people came as
second nature. Ever since I was a child, I was always the guy making
skits, singing songs or shooting home videos. Therefore, acting
became a natural progression for me. When I left the Seminary, I ended up
getting a degree in drama from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and
then moved out to Los Angeles to do extra work and bit parts.
The rest is history, as they say, and now I have built up quite an acting
Of late you have also moved behind the
camera more and more - what prompted that move, and of all the positions
you've filled, what did you enjoy most, what could you do without?
can tell you one thing. I was built for the film industry.
I have been on over 100 sets in my 25+ year career and go to sleep
dreaming about c-stands and duvetyne in cramped spaces. I can't even picture myself
doing anything but. However, I honestly love acting. There's
something to be said about immersing yourself in a character and bringing
it to life off the page. But to answer your question, my bread and butter
has been producing. I've got decades of grey hairs that came
from giving my all to help other people's dreams and passion projects
get made. And although I have done well at that, I'm a bit over it. I,
too, as a creative have had stories to tell my entire life. And as I
told my business partner, Dan, you can do others people's bidding
your entire life. Once you develop a skill set like producing, you
are in high demand. But there is no end to giving another piece of
your soul, for someone else's project. So we finally decided to focus
more on our own creative content. I love writing and directing as
well, but they are much more intense. As a result. I'm careful to
commit to projects I really want to get behind, because they can
take a very long time to come to fruition. Now you should know I sometimes
grip to get in shape or be a background to humble myself. I'm not
joking. And if a friend needs help over the weekend on their
short, count me in. Stay humble, stay hungry.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The
You name it, I've done it. I have
close to 100 films on my resume. The majority are Producing
followed closely by acting and various Production-oriented jobs.
Check out my IMDb page for a taste
But I have worked on every scale possible. 125 million Dollar plus
studio films to indies shot for $30K over a summer. I've met scores
of celebrities, directors and Oscar winners and have seen every
possible personality ranging from shady to arrogant to the better side of
congenial and downright humble. But to me, in our business, you always
have to keep learning your craft. The landscape is ever
changing, the politics are an ever deeper quagmire and the speed of
technology is mind numbing. So stay relevant. Change your skillset to
fit the current state of affairs, but keep your core values and ebullient personality,
because in the end that's what keeps you working. Oh, and never give
up on your dreams. Two years ago I might have said that me having a film,
that the entire world has access to, might be an impossibility.
That's obviously not the case.
Actors, filmmakers, whoever else
who inspire you?
Tim Burton is a genius.
But I lean heavily on classic literature as well. Washington Irving,
Edgar Alan Poe, and Charles Dickens to name a few. Industry vets,
like my buddies The Chiodo Brothers. Standards like Kubrick,
Danny Elfman and Guillermo Del Toro also come to mind.
Innovators like Ray Harryhausen, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin and
Stan Lee also hold a soft spot in my heart. Any one, regardless of
fame or position, who has lasted in this crazy business of ours, deserves
Your favourite movies?
films, 70-80s horror classics. The Exorcist,
The Car, Duel, Christine, Rosemary's Baby, The Omen,
The Amityville Horror, The Fearless Vampire
Killers, anything Tim Burton has ever done. Corpse
Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow if I have to chose the best of Tim's. Tons of animation.
In fact, I'm a member of ASIFA-Hollywood. Monster House, Polar Express and all things
Pixar. Put me on record
as saying Snowpiercer is a brilliant indie
film. Amadeus is my G.O.A.T. on
and of course, films you really deplore?
I. Can't. Even. Ironically, I was an extra in the
second one, and actually in a scene with George Clooney.
Anything by Tyler Perry is a trainwreck. Anything Twilight
makes me want to live on Mars with no breathing apparatus à la Total Recall.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
us at http://theincantationmovie.com
us on FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/TheIncantation/
us on TWITTER https://twitter.com/The_Incantation
us on INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/the_incantation/
to us on YouTube
#TheIncantation #ThanksFrance #DoNotDenyYourTrueNature
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
my wife, Pranom Walko and my kids Orion Joseph and Preeya Marie for
letting Daddy pursue his dreams, and yes the cheetah is the fastest land
for the interview!
Thank you so much MIKE!