A recent visit Director Terry R. Wickham had with his filmmakng friend James Balsamo has resulted in a new film to be called Gruesome Threesome. Wickham elaborates, “I showed James a bunch of my films; “The Downfall of Johnny Garrett“, “Stalk“, Washington Road, Help Me, “Hair of The Dog” and an early preview of the not quite finished “The Devil’s Five” segment.
James totally enjoyed each of my films and innocently asked what I was doing now with the older films. He was passionate about seeing them get out there in the world because he was certain there is an audience for them. He even told me the best avenue to make them available for people to stream or download the film.
His suggestions kicked me in the butt to do something about it. So I called Hair of the Dog Writer/Producer Tim Clark to propose the idea of putting “The Downfall of Johnny Garrett”, “Stalk” and “Hair of the Dog” together as one feature film.
Tim was totally down for teaming up and writing the script for a new wraparound to house those segments and make it work as one Feature Film we are calling Gruesome Threesome.
What I loved is Tim jumped on it right away writing the 7-page wraparound script in less than 24-hours and I am thrilled what he came up with. It’s simple, funny and totally has Tim’s unique witty spin on such a tale.
I likewise will not waste any time, as auditions will be held for the three characters needed within two weeks and I want to shoot it after the holidays in early January. Then we will get in on the platform where anyone can rent or download the movie.
Sunday July 24, was quite a different experience for Director Terry R. Wickham and his film Abandoned. The Award-Winning Filmmaker of 3-Minute Chillers Contest talks about it, “This part of the shoot felt totally different than the other three shooting days because, we didn’t have to worry about getting kicked out of the location. We filmed at part of the historic Long Island mental facility Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood, NY.
I have got to be honest. Not having to worry about someone telling us we can’t shoot and the fact that we were outside breathing clean air made a big difference. Plus throw in that we only needed to do four exterior shots to finish the movie, helped as well.”
First up was the establishing shot to show the enormity of the structure Abandoned takes place in. Wickham continues, “Production Coordinator Jason Paluck, DP Adrian Popescu and 1st AC/Steadicam Operator Leftonred Atanycorner visited the location the weekend before our shoot and they liked it. So I went there after work the Wednesday prior to filming to map out all four shots.
As a visual director like myself, I loved being able to be there ahead of time and visualize where the characters should walk, talk and how to best capture those cinematic moments. I also walked around the area surrounding the power plant to figure out where the topography would match what we already shot. I also saw that by positioning the first shot with a corner perspective of the building, that it was was not only three dimensional and helped increase the massiveness of the structure.”
Wickham choose yellowish dirt road to the southwest corner of the building. Director of Photography Adrian Popescu, set up some make shift vegetation to help show off the slow slider shot movement, tracking the two actors walking to what was in real life an abandoned power plant.
The director elaborates, “I wanted to not only establish the vast building, but further continue steady, fluid shots to help draw the audience into the story and to make them feel that they were watching a movie from a sure-handed director. I can’t stand the overuse of super fast cutting in so many movies today. It gets tiring and wears out its welcome quickly. I also feel that it also goes against the fabric of creating suspense, so for me, I opt to go the other way.”
The next couple shots established that our main character “Billie” (Siakie Tetteh) gets the sensation that someone is watching them. The Director shares his vision, “We used the geography of the location to carefully intertwine our lead characters with the adversarial presence. I tried to construct movement and momentum with economical choices. Things had to flow and I didn’t want anything to stop the natural progress of the movie. But I kept pushing for shifting perspective and use of space within the frame.”
The filmmaker speaks about his lead actors, “I really enjoyed how natural Siakie and Aaron were together.
Their relationship came across as both friendly and professional, which is exactly how their roles were written. I like how they both seemed aware of the surroundings but in different ways. There is no doubt that they are both comfortable in front of the camera and Adrian did stellar job filming them.”
Production Designer Michelle Rickert was on hand again to provide all necessary props and even got to sort of appear as one of the shadowy foes.
Sunday was a bit of a break for Leftonred Atanycorner. He took control of the boom mic because Sound Recordist Pat Reilly couldn’t make the shoot. This was especially good considering how much Steadicam work he did the day prior.
Jevon Duff was on hand again to help the team any way needed as a Production Assistant. Wickham finishes up the day, “Jevon & Siakie transported a couple of the cast & crew from the city and he operated the slate again. He was a big help.”
The production got all that was needed and wrapped in four hours. Wickham sums up the extremely satisfying experience, “I had some really talented passionate people working with me on Abandoned. It was obvious that they cared about the film and put their hearts and souls into the work. This isn’t something that’s automatic and bodes well for the outcome of our movie.
My goal was to make a shorter film than Stash and The Devil’s Five that was super suspenseful that exuded cinematic style. I wanted to do it with a smaller group of people to make things more intimate, I felt this important on this film because of the setting and what takes place in the film.
It’s think it’s always hard and maybe even wrong for a filmmaker to to proclaim that a film has achieved something before the audience sees it, because they ultimately will be the judge & jury of the film.
What I can say is that stylistically Abandoned mirrors more of my own visual taste than any film I’ve ever directed. That’s not a knock against the films I directed like Madame Red, Double Fantasy,Out of Touch,The Downfall of Johnny Garrett or Stalk from Evil Streets, Washington, Road, Help Me, Hair of the Dog, Stash, The Devil’s Five or any other title from my work. I was really primed to make this film, after coming off a year and half of the most directorial opportunities in my career so far.”
Filmmaker Terry R. Wickham says, “When the opportunity opened up for me to write/direct a third film for the feature film Devil’s Five, I felt strongly that I needed to make something brief that would grab the audience. I came up with the idea for this short piece when I visited an old abandoned psychiatric hospital with The Devil’s Five Special Visual FX Artist Jason Paluck. Going to the locale inspired my mind with a cool idea for a film. Jason immediately got it and agreed to be the DP and Editor. We both felt that it should be shot in 1-day and not make it a big production.”
As Wickham was putting the script together, he got a strong feeling to call his friend David Helpling to see if he might be interested in scoring the film. Terry elaborates, “David is so damn talented and I love the way he works. He doesn’t go for obvious choices as a composer and I admire his musical creativity. I felt this story is as much about the location as it is the human characters, which would afford David the chance to run wild in a subtle way to match the movie’s approach. It’s a weird dichotomy, where it’s a small found footage horror movie but I want it to look & sound amazingly stylish and slick. David’s signature ability to generate a huge canvas of sound in an ambient way, would crystalize my vision for the film.
The fact is 12 years ago David and I made a wonderful movie together called Hair of the Dog. I credit much of the success of that film to David’s music. He is without question one of my favorite musicians in the world. I felt strongly there was no reason why we shouldn’t join forces again on a project that contained something we both love, cinematic suspense.”
Look for more updates about “Abandoned” as the production comes together. Paluck and Wickham are planning to shoot the film in the spring. They have already put out casting notices for the all-important female lead.