The Downfall of Johnny Garrett

The Making of…Johnny Garrett
By Writer/Producer Michael Knight
johnny garrett cover b


After completing a music video, I spoke with Terry about doing another project. I was impressed with Terry’s enthusiasm and drive. It’s easy to start a project but when problems arise, a lot of people bail. Terry proved he could finish what he started and make the best of it.

Johnny Garrett  part A 001
“Sheila” (Nicole Bryl) walks home from work under the Bellerose Train Station on October 28, 1996. The camerawork was done by Director Terry Wickham, who operated a Glidecam to get the steady fluid camerawork. “The Downfall of Johnny Garrett ” was shot in 8-days in Bellerose, Deer Park, East Meadow, Garden City, Queens Village, Massapequa, Merrick, Stonybrook, Uniondale, Wantagh and New York City, New York.

I had several horror fiction stories published at the time and had envisioned them as short films. After some reading we decided on my short story, The Downfall of Johnny Garrett and adapted it for film. It was like the old DC horror comics tale, a simple revenge story with a lot of visual aspects to it. In fact, the original story only had two lines of dialogue in it.


Johnny Garrett  part A 001
On the first night of shooting, October 18, 1996, “Johnny Garrett” (Steve Rodriguez) appears almost like a mystical figure as “Sheila” takers her long walk home. This scene was photographed in an industrial park in Garden City Park after the production got kicked out of Roosevelt Raceway. This night of shooting utilized an unorthodox lighting approach by having lights powered by car batteries.

I also had ideas for doing horror soundtrack music with predominantly guitar. Not song placements but actual atmospheric music background for the film.





We were going full-on gorilla filmmaking because of the locations we wanted to use.

Johnny Garrett  part A 001
Long Island Rock band Voodoo Storm vocalist Steve Rodriguez really captured the young thug’s vicious heart. Terry had worked with Steve having already directed the band’s “Fetish” music video, but Rodriguez won the role through an open audition that actually was held within the building to Steve’s right @ Mr. Electric Studios  in Massapequa on October 25, 1996.

Steve Rodriguez had a great look for the 70’s style gang leader, Johnny.

Johnny garrett part B_0001
“Sheila” (Nicole Bryl) contacts the spirit of her dead friend “Wendy” (Hillary Epstein) to extract revenge against Johnny Garrett. This scene was filmed at Hillary Epstein’s residence in Deer Park, NY on November 3, 1996.

Nicole Bryl made for the perfect innocent Sheila.


Title 1-Chapter 3-0

One of the problems we had was starting off with too big of a crew. Trying to be discreet with 12 people setting up a shot was a problem. The police kicked us out of our chosen locations on the first night of shooting. I decided to send half the crew home and to cut them from the remainder of the project. More was definitely not better in this case. My knowledge of Queens NY helped me think of secluded places we could shoot on the fly.

Title 1-Chapter 3-0
Nicole Bryl flaunts a different side of her self after getting some assistance from the other side.  This was shot behind Mr. Electric Studios in Massapequa, NY on November 2,1996.

Lighting was a problem for several scenes because we didn’t have access to electric. We adjusted as best we could as we went along.


Johnny Garrett part C_0001
Terry’s inspiration for this shot came from John Carpenter’s THE FOG and was photographed behind Mr. Electric Studios on November 2, 1996 in Massapequa, NY. “Johnny Garrett” (Steve Rodriguez)  is about to get a visit from “Wendy” (Hillary Epstein), “Sheila’s deceased friend.

We shot the final scenes behind my (at the time) music studio in Massapequa, NY so we had privacy, permission to be there, and access to electricity. It certainly paid off for some great shots.


Johnny Garrett part C_0001

My buddy, John Hoelzer set up props and the arm and bone prosthetics for the arm chop. Craig Lindberg set up the blood pump. Jason Alvino did the dead woman’s make up. And my buddy, Ben Guzik helped with lighting (and driving to 7-11 for coffee and cigarettes, lol)



Title 1-Chapter 3-0
“Wendy” (Hillary Epstein) looks at he damage she’s done via axe to “johnny Garrett” (Steve Rodriguez). Special Effects artist Craig Liindberg supplied pumping blood for the severed arm, and would go on to work on numerous films & television shows like Boardwalk Empire and Saturday Night Live. The special make-up on “Wendy” was done by Jason Alvino.

It was a fun project and it showed me how much work goes into shooting a short 15-minute segment like Johnny Garrett.

Title 1-Chapter 3-0
“Wendy” (Hillary Epstein) and “Sheila” (Nicole Bryl) remain friends forever.

If you want to see what Michael has been doing since, check out his Amazon Authors Page:

Michael Thomas-Knight -clocktowerblackart4