On Monday July 10th, 2017, the slow-burn atmospheric “Stash” finally reached completion. Stash is the second of five segments that make up the feature film Devil’s Five to be finished.
Producer-Director Terry R. Wickham talks about it, “I am extremely proud to have finished this movie, because in more one day it will be 3 years since we shot our first shooting day (July 12, 2014). But more than surviving that long time frame, it is deeply gratifying overcoming all of problems we had to face. As the Director of the film, I had to have not only the ultimate vision of what the film could be, but the endurance of a marathon runner and the inhuman patience of Michael Myers. But you know what, against the odds and disbelief of some people who doubted me, I accomplished my goal and fulfilled my vision of the film and I didn’t do it alone.
First off, we didn’t raise enough money on our Indiegogo campaign to make the movie . Then Executive Producer-Actor Richard Kern stepped in the last hour of the campaign to donate a significant amount of money that enabled us to go forward and shoot the film. Not only did Rick support the movie with funds, but he also generously gave us his commercial van to transport all the equipment to and from shoots. This was gigantic after we spent $500 a weekend the first shooting weekend renting a U-Haul van. Without his van, we could not have afforded to haul the equipment needed for the rest of the shooting weekends. Plus Rick chipped in more money, so that we could afford insurance on the movie. He was unbelievably supportive.
Then we had to shoot at totally different locations than what was in the script, because we couldn’t secure those original locations. The Salvetti family ended up allowing us to shoot on their 17 acres of wooded property in Califon, NJ, which was another huge help towards making Stash reality. Many thanks to G. Paul Salvetti for playing such a big role in this happening.
Since we were severely under the budget needed, we had no choice to hire a sound recordist/sound designer who wasn’t really up to snuff. This ended up becoming a nightmare. This sound recordist/designer only showed up for half the time (which meant half the movie was silent) and when he did, the sound was so poorly recorded we had almost no usable dialogue. Six months later, after replacing him with another sound designer, I had the cast re-record all of their dialogue (ADR) for the movie. Afterwards, I thought this second sound designer was working on the sound over the summer of 2015, only to find out he lost his Visa and was shipped back to Europe. Then in the fall of 2015, I got a third sound designer, who after starting working on it, resigned saying it was just going to be too much work to do.
So I had to find a fourth sound designer, whose name was Thomas Jackson. Thomas determined the ADR that was recorded with second guy was not good enough and I was forced to bring back the entire cast to perform all the dialogue a third time! I give all the actors a ton of credit for doing this.
Thankfully Thomas was a up & coming pro and had use of professional audio recording rooms, at an audio school he was attending in Manhattan. This proved to be pivotal because we didn’t have the money to rent out those types of sound recording rooms.
You would think that was the end of the sound problems. But after Thomas worked on the movie from January 2016 to first week of December 2016 (finishing about 80 percent of the sound work needed) without warning he totally stopped communicating and I never heard from him again. I had no choice but to find a fifth sound designer and that’s where Bryan Lopes stepped in. I can’t thank Bryan enough for being the sound closer for Stash. I had all sorts of ideas on how to improve the film and together with his talent & an ear for finding just the right sounds, the work he did made Stash a heck of a lot more creepy and genuinely atmospheric.
The other major problem was that “Stash” is a movie that’s about a smart phone applicated scavenger hunt. Every time we photographed the phone, we set it up with a green screen with black XXs, so that later in post, we could add our own motion graphic App. The original editor was going to handle this issue, but after a year and a half he still hadn’t tackled it. So I replaced the editor and had to find someone who would (with no money). After searching, I thought I found a VFX artist from School of Visual Arts, but ultimately she backed out and I really didn’t know if we were ever going to be able to pull it off. Somehow a VFX Artist from Los Angeles named Martin Bresino contacted me and ended up doing all the smart phone VFX needed and he even created a onscreen demon for the movie. To this day, I’ve never even seen a picture of Martin, but he really saved our film. Without his amazing flawless VFX, we wouldn’t have a finished film.
I can’t leave out Editor Jason Paluck. A year and a half into the films making, Jason took over for the original editor. He immediately went to work making trims, doctoring footage, color correcting the movie and even doing some of the visual effects Martin Bresino didn’t have time to do. Jason has become not only a good friend, but an invaluable member of the Devil’s Five team and really cares about the outcome, since he edited both Stash and Abandoned.
Those who know me, know I’m incredibly motivated individual. But there was something that really drove me to finish Stash and make it the best it could be. It was my former friend’s (a friend since 1987) response to seeing a rough cut of the movie. In his own words ( I’m copying & pasting a portion of his last email), “There’s also a huge issue with Stash. In my opinion, it would be impossible to make a releasable version of Stash. If you insist on trying to release Stash, I’m telling you it will only hurt your reputation and everyone else’s in it. Stash simply does not work anyway.”
His words and the lack of faith from a few other friends lit a fire under me. I was determined to do everything I could, with the assistance of the talented post-production people mentioned above, to prove him/them wrong and to show the world the film’s numerous qualities.
In the end, including all cast & crew, 56 People worked on “Stash.” It was a gigantic effort for such a challenging 31-minute low-budget film like ours, to overcome everything mentioned in this blog and even more that I didn’t say. The finished film is a real testament to everyone involved. I can’t thank the cast and crew enough for all they did to make it happen.”