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Shadowland [2010] DVD - Gets Released...

Okay, what can I say about this film that has not been said before "Shadowland" has received a mountain of positive feedback from websites to blogs to film festivals. So I ask you again what can I say that would encourage you to check this film out , that gets it's DVD release on November 30th.  So I will start be giving you my thoughts, without necessarily giving it a review... It is classified as a low budget horror film and this is true to some degree, it is much more than you can imagine.  
"Shadowland" is not your typical horror film about vampires or is it not low budget... just ask the makers of the film.  They spent countless hours and financial resources trying to get their film made, so they did what they had to in order to making this work.  Creatively written and crafted to have it's budget limitations to be challenged, and with great success it gets achieved.  Using the elements around them, not the over graphic bombardment that many of the films try to do.  No here it uses a story, a story that left me saying "damn that was a creative take" on a tired vampire story.  If you want to watch "Twilight" go watch it, but please do not compare "Shadowland" to it or any other vampire-styled films.  It stands on it's own and deserves to watched as it is to entertain, and that it does. I have all ready asked if there might be a sequel, and I was told by the success of "Shadowland" will most certainly be considered.

Get over to Amazon or any other distribution outlet and watch this film "Shadowland", you will enjoy it too.
I wanted to thank all those who contributed interviews [Wyatt Weed, Carlos Antonio León,  Jason Contini] and to Gayle Gallagher who help pull all of this together... One more surprise will be coming...

iZombie [2vs8]

Jason Contini - Bio

 Jason began acting at the age of 3 years old when he played The Littlest Prince in a production of The King & I in St. Louis, Missouri. After growing up in a theatre family (his father is actor John Contini) Jason decided to pursue acting in film. In 2003 Jason moved to Los Angeles but moved back to St. Louis a little over a year later. While back in St. Louis, Jason earned his Actor's Equity card doing three consecutive years of children's theatre with The Imaginary Theatre Company, the touring arm of The St. Louis Repertory Theatre. He also worked with Avalon Theatre Company and Stages St. Louis. In the summer of 2008 he moved back to Los Angeles where he now resides.

Shadowland - Actor: Jason Contini

Good Guy... Vampires beware... he doesn't want to kill you, he just has too.

[2vs8]: How did you find yourself wanting to act? Do you have any personal influences?

Jason Contini: My dad, John Contini, is a professional actor so I’ve grown up with acting.  I actually started when I was 3 doing a production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I.  Ironically though, from what I’m told, I didn’t really enjoy it all that much.  In fact, my Mom likes to tell stories about how I would get so bored during the show that I would pretend to be asleep and make Three Stooges sounds.  On stage.  In the middle of a production.  I don’t think I was really “bitten by the acting bug” as they say, till a few years later.  When I was 5 I did a production of A Christmas Carol with my Dad where I played Tiny Tim.  I remember really enjoying being a part of “Dad’s world” and getting to wear fun costumes and play pretend.  From that point on I was hooked.  So, naturally, my Dad is probably my biggest influence.  But I’m also a big classic film buff so I’m very influenced by people like Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Peter O’Toole, Henry Fonda….the classic stars.

[2vs8]: Before acting what was your first and worst job, and did you ever want to return to those places... not to work, but to see it?

Jason Contini: My first job was at McDonald's.  I was sixteen years old and, of course, took it for granted.  I don’t know that I could pick a “worst” job.  I’ve had jobs I didn’t enjoy but they weren’t bad enough to call “worst”.  Although, I guess SOMETHING has to be worst.  I just don’t know that I could pick one.

[2vs8]: Is this your first full length film "Shadowland" and how does this compare to your other film experiences?

Jason Contini: I had actually done about 10 micro budget features before shooting Shadowland.  So it isn’t really fair to compare them.  I had never done a film that had a budget of more than 50 thousand.  So things were very different.  Not necessarily better, just different.  I will say, though, that I had more fun on Shadowland than I had before.  It was like working with your closest friends and family everyday.  We had such a great time.

[2vs8]: Can you tell something funny on the set of "Shadowland" that happened to you or your cast members?

Jason Contini: I think for me one of the funnier things was everybody watching me try to drive the Mini Cooper.  About a week before filming, Gayle Gallagher, our Producer, showed me the car that I would be driving and asked “By the way, you can drive stick, right?”  And of course, that was something that I had never even tried to do before.  So Gayle actually had to take me out to an empty parking lot and tried to teach me herself.  I felt like I was 16 again and learning how to drive.  I say she “tried” because I had a real hard time getting into first gear.  Once there, I was fine.  But usually when I tried to get into first, I just succeeded in killing the car.  I believe there are outtakes of me trying, and usually failing, to drive the mini on the DVD special features.  And there are some scenes where it’s not even me driving.  Anytime the car had to go in reverse, that’s not me.

[2vs8]: If you could portray any actor's life in a historical aspect film [living or dead] who might you be?

Jason Contini: Gregory Peck.  He is my all time favorite actor.  I don’t think I look anything like him so the prospect of that ever actually happening is slim to none, I would think.  But that would be a fascinating story to get into and I would love to honor him in that way.

[2vs8]: What are you working on and how does it differ from past film projects, including "Shawdowland"?

Jason Contini: I have two films currently in post production right now.  One is a romantic comedy called THE ANNIVERSARY.  In it I play a thirty-something guy trying to deal with being single in today’s dating world.  The other film is a war film called KHYBER dealing with the Russian/Afghan War in the 1980’s.  I play one of five Russian soldiers stationed at a dilapidated outpost near the Khyber Pass.  Trailers for both can be seen on You Tube.  The other project I have in the works is a creator-owned indie comic book called LEGACIES END of which I am the Co-Plotter and one of the Artists for.  Our first preview issue is available now at either or through our website

[2vs8]: Biggest misconception on making a film, from start to finish?

Jason Contini: I’m not sure how much people know about the amount of work that goes into making ANY film or the amount of people that put in that work.  Film buffs would, but general audiences may not.  And not just during the filming process.  For instance, Rachel Reickenberg, our make-up artist, spent months designing and building the look of the vampire teeth and other make-up effects not to mention doing most of the makeup for many of the actors in the film.  Meghan Brown, the Art Director, spent most of her personal free time gathering random props and set dressing items and then spent many long exhausting hours dressing the sets and making the locations look like what Wyatt wanted them to look like.  And there are hundreds of thousands of cases just like these on every film you ever see.

[2vs8]: What scares you?

Jason Contini: Fear.  When fear takes control of you and prevents you from achieving what you would otherwise achieve or prevents you from experiencing what you would otherwise experience.

[2vs8]: Advice that was given to you, that you would pass along to a complete stranger who just stole your seat on a bus?

Jason Contini: I was in college and one day was sitting on a bench somewhere on campus.  A random woman, that I had never met, came up to me and sat down next to me.  She didn’t say hello or how are you or anything.  She sat quietly for a minute and then turned to me and said, “People always get the A word wrong.  Remember that.  They tend to confuse ‘ambition’ with ‘aggressiveness’.  Not the same thing.  Ambition is a good thing.”  And then the woman said goodbye and walked away.  It was a very surreal moment.  I never even got a chance to say anything to her.  But I liked what she said and I’ll never forget it.

[2vs8]: One word that describes you best.

Jason Contini: Dedicated.

[2vs8]: Word association [first thought that come to mind]

Jason Contini:
   -Carlos - Giving
   -Vampire - Lonely
   -Caitlin - Professional
   -Pirate - Booty
   -Wyatt - Family
   -Julian – Broken

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [2011]
Captain Jack Sparrow crosses paths with a woman from his past and he's not sure if it's love or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard, Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.

Shadowland @ Chicago Comic Con [Part I]

Photos by: Stephen Scott Photography

If you would have told I would have made some great friends at the "2010 Wizard Chicago Comic Con", I would have told you no way.  Here it is a few months later and I am still making these friends, friends....
The Shadowland Cast were line deep in autographs and I never even heard of this film, so I wasn't going to wait in some long line for this group of people.  I did meet the producer Gayle and she was so happy to tell me about this film and I exchanged info, figuring I would do a little blurb of a post as I do.  What a nice group of people and me kicking myself for not sticking around longer.  They are touring to help promote the film, and to find out if they are coming near you check out their up to date info on facebook:

Shadowland - Producer - Gayle Gallagher

Gayle Gallagher On the job of producing the film "Shadowland"

Gayle and Wyatt - Make a Re-enactment Of The Shadowland Poster

[2vs8]: How did you get involved with this project "Shadowland"?
Gayle Gallagher: Wyatt Weed (the writer/director) and I have known each other for... geez, 25 years.  When he came back to St. Louis to work on a short film called "Time-line", I ended up working on that project doing sound.  A few months later, we worked on another short together and then on a music video, me working in the producer role on those.  When we got the green light to film a feature, Wyatt asked if I could handle producing a project that big. I jumped at the chance. (Hindsight, if I had known how much work producing a feature film is, I'd have been terrified -- I'd have done it anyway, but  would have been terrified). 
In all honesty, I had been practicing to be a film producer for ten years before working on "Time-line".  I had been organizing events (theme parties, a cycling team, a big fundraiser for MS) for years... as I got into the film producing, I realized very quickly that I was good at it because it was the same skills needed for event organizing - "make sure you have all the right people at the right place with the right stuff". 

[2vs8]: What is the process of producing projects such as "Shadowland"?
Gayle Gallagher: On a low budget indie, producing takes on a different definition than on a studio project. On this level, both the director and I wore a lot of hats, including location scouts and casting directors.  I tend to describe my job as the "den mother".  It's really about the details and making sure everything is planned out - and especially about the little things you don't think about in advance but really need to, like "where is the nearest bathroom at this location?" and "Did anyone tell the local police we would be filming with guns today" (that one is VERY important!!!)

In pre-production, it was all about the paperwork -- Making sure we had the proper releases from all the cast, crew, locations, musicians, etc.  Making sure we had the proper permits for filming in neighborhoods, city streets, parks.  Making sure we had all the insurance forms, payroll info, and all the other details that go into running the business side of the film production.

On set, my job was to keep all the 'problems' away from Wyatt so he could focus on directing, to be the buffer for the director so he can be creative.  If any disasters came up, he wouldn't know they had occurred until the end of the day, when I would report to him that "the location for Wednesday has a scheduling issue and needs to move us to next week - however, I was able to shuffle the schedule, get all the actors we need when we need them, and swap next weeks schedule with this week.."  That kind of stuff. 

[2vs8]: Were you on the set daily to oversee this project?
Gayle Gallagher: Every morning during production when that alarm went off at 4:30am, I seriously thought I was going to throw up... and I'd shake it off, climb into my big yellow Penske truck (did I mention that I wore different hats) and drive the makeup/wardrobe/prop/base-camp gear truck to set. We'd set up our base-camp near the location we were shooting, and I had a 'portable office' that got set up every day - tent, tables, chairs, phone, computer, printer, etc.  This is where I worked.  I was rarely 'on set', as in standing next to the director, but I was at the location every day.

As a producer, you really have to be a good multi-tasker on location. Most days, I was at 'base-camp'. I had the headset in one ear so I was available if anyone on set needed anything; generally I had a cell phone at the other ear, making sure everything was set for the upcoming day's shoot and putting out the fires; and usually I was fielding questions from other people at base-camp or through email.   It's good to be an adrenaline junkie when working in production!

[2vs8]: What are some other projects you have been involved in, and do you have a favorite?
Gayle Gallagher: Shadowland is the only feature film I have been involved in.  There are short films that I have produced, both with Pirate Pictures and as an independent producer. "Time-line" is the romantic comedy that started my working with Pirate. "Bag of Tricks" and "Love Bytes" were weekend-long productions shot as part of the 48 Hour Film Project. "Capdance" was a mob-movie with a twist, "Play Dead" is a supernatural thriller, "DNR" is a pilot for a suspense TV show, "War of the Planets" a 50's style sci-fi short.  There have been music videos, commercial projects, promotional pieces. 
I don't know if I have a favorite... I love production so much that there is fun in all of these projects.  "Timeline" was my first, so there will always be a place in my heart for that one... The other shorts have all been award-winning projects, so at the end of the day you know the work you did was recognized as quality. And some of the commercial projects I have worked on have allowed me to work with some great people (Jackie Joyner Kersee, Albert Pujols).

[2vs8]: How did the name "Pirate Pictures" get picked, and how long has the company been producing?
Gayle Gallagher: The three original guys who started Pirate Pictures had been buddies in high school.  When they put the company together, they chose the mascot from their alma mater (the Pattonville Pirates) to name the company after.  That was in 2002. They formed the production company when they started filming Pirate's first feature, "Guardian of the Realm".

[2vs8]: "Shadowland" I believe will be a huge success, what are your thoughts?
Gayle Gallagher: Well, obviously I am biased, but the reception we have gotten from people at festivals and other screenings has been so positive that I can't argue with you..!  The fact that we have been so involved with the film from the beginning and  have been really been 'working' it makes a difference.  Our motto from the beginning has been "no one is going to care about this project as much as we do"... in some ways we are right, in others not so much.  We realized fairly early on in the distribution process that we were right, no one was going to care about it like we do. After a couple of frustrating false starts with distributors, we decided to set up our own distribution company.  Building up a team of experienced sales, marketing, and replication forces, we have put together a strong company and our film is getting distributed the way we want it to.   As far as the fans go, we were wrong -- THEY do care as much as we do.  It has been fantastic to meet people at festivals and conventions and have them be excited about Shadowland.  When the audience stays for an hour-long Q&A after a screening because they just want to know more, we realize that we are not alone in our passion.

[2vs8]: What is your favorite part of your job from day to day?
Gayle Gallagher: Naps.
Actually, I used to work in the corporate world and the repetition of each day made me nuts. What I love about my life now is that no two days are the same... We work on different productions, we work on promotion, we work on distribution.  It's also amazing where we have gotten to go because of our job... Shadowland alone has taken us around the United States to different festivals and this past summer, we went to Venezuela with it. That was incredible!
My favorite part of my job is that although I am working harder than I ever did when I had a 'real job', this never feels like work!

[2vs8]: What scares you?
Gayle Gallagher: Roger.  Roger was the stunt dummy we used on Shadowland (he plays a homeless guy and a SWAT guy).  Driving home late one night, Roger was riding shotgun in the big yellow Penske truck.  After a long day of shooting, and the fact that Roger has no heartbeat, I ended up driving all the way home with him quietly riding along.  When I arrived, I turned to make sure I could make the last turn, saw Roger sitting there (who I had COMPLETELY forgotten about) and about wet myself when 'man' was in the truck with me!

[2vs8]: Last movie that you had seen, that you said... wow and one that you said, oh why?
Gayle Gallagher: I see movies in different forms... the last new release film I saw in the theater was "Scott Pilgrim" -- and that was just great fun!  I'm not a huge video gamer, so I am sure there were a Lot of references that just blew by me, but the ones I got, made me laugh... great ride!
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a screening of "Evil Dead 2" and I am embarrassed to say that was the first I had seen that film (I know, take my geek card away...)  I will say that a midnight show with an audience is a Fantastic way to see a Bruce Campbell film, though!!
The "Oh Why" category comes into play through the delivery method of "Super 8 Movie Madness". This is a monthly screening at a dive bar in St. Louis. They screen condensed versions (15 minutes or so) of all sorts of films on Super 8.  So, imagine watching Jaws in 15 minutes.  This is a lot of fun, and we get to see a Ray Harryhausen film nearly every month, but there are some films that get shown that are really quite painful..!

[2vs8]: What music are you listening too, right now?
Gayle Gallagher: It's ten o'clock at night, and I am in the office, with "Radio Nigel" jamming in the background.  I am a product of 80's music, having worked in radio from the mid-80s into the 90s.  Nigel plays such a great mix of the obscure stuff that just makes me stop, smile and say out loud "Oh my god, I haven't heard this in YEARS..!!"  (oh, and to be more specific, "The Bubblemen" by The Bubblemen (aka L&R) is currently playing.)

[2vs8]: Working with Wyatt Weed with the cast of "Shadowland", what is some of your fondest memories?
Gayle Gallagher: Wow... that is a hard one to pin down... The cast and crew really became "family" on this set.
Rachel Rieckenberg, our FX makeup artist really made this shoot a lot of fun. She was always upbeat, and I doubt one day went by when you didn't hear her say "I'm so excited!".

Caitlin has all the stereotypes that one would imagine would make up a Diva (beauty queen, hooters calendar girl, etc) and yet she was one of the hardest working people on this production (just look at all the physical work she does in the film and you will see what I mean) and she did not complain at all!  She is so fun and spunky and a downright goofball (pretty sure she is the one who started the T-rex imitations that got everyone giggling at lunch).

Stunt driving was pretty darn cool...  Julian (Jason Contini) drives a MINI Cooper in this film (my MINI Cooper). We found out a couple of weeks before production began that Jason couldn't drive a stick. So, he and I got to know each other better taking the car out and stalling it repeatedly in the Mall parking lot, trying to teach him to drive.  He was finally able to drive it on screen, but the stunt shots, those are me..!  Jason was also quite the worker on this project. Even on the days he was not on camera, he was on set, helping out in any way he could.

Carlos was amazing from the beginning. He is really not on camera that often, but he is one of the people who cares as much as we do.  He has been so instrumental in promoting the film in both the US and around the world!

Working with Wyatt is amazing. His vision, and his creativity, and his ability to work with people is inspiring. The fact that he is the writer/director/editor, the vision then gets carried all the way through the project.  He is able to push people to be the best they can be, even when they are ready to give up.  It is these skills that make the projects as good as they are, and make them fun to work on.

[2vs8]: What is next?
Gayle Gallagher: That is the question that comes up at every public appearance.. what is next..?  Right now, we are focusing on distribution, getting Shadowland out there a bit more, but also picking up several other films we will distribute in early 2011.  Mid-year, we plan on starting pre-production on 'what's next'... either a supernatural western, a real-life drama based on a true story, or possibly a family film.

Shadowland [2010] - Please Check out the Trailer...

Carlos Antonio León - Bio

Carlos Antonio Leon was born in a small village called "El Alto" (the tall) located in the mountains that surround the city of Valera (in Venezuela). At early age, Carlos Antonio moved to Caracas, and after finishing high school he enrolled in an Acting School called "taller de Investigacion Teatral Luz Columba" (Center for Acting Research, called today CIFALC, which expanded its services to the city of Miami). At 21, Carlos Antonio was already producing his own Fashion shows while co-hosting a fashion segment for the State TV Station (VTV) in the morning show "Mujeres" alongside Susana Duijm (Miss World 1955). Guided by his acting teacher, Nelson Ortega (director of CIFALC), Carlos Antonio starred in three major plays: "El Juego" (The Game), "Juegos Inocentes" (Innocent Games) and "Todos Queremos Ser Rey" (Everyone wants to be a king). Carlos Antonio mixed his theater activities with modeling and was featured in TV commercials, catalogs, and Fashion shows. He also participated in high-rated soap operas in all of the major Venezuelan TV stations. Carlos Antonio became known for many years as an impersonator and his performances became not only very popular in and out of Venezuela but the most requested by music festivals, discotheques, private clubs, and so forth. He received many awards for such performances and was a regular in the hottest variety TV shows of the time such as "Maite," "Tu y Yo con," "Fantastico," etc. He also became the leading dancer for the TV hit "La Tropa de Vacaciones" (RCTV-first season). Carlos Antonio lives between St. Louis (Missouri) and Miami (Florida). Besides acting, Carlos Antonio also finished his Masters degree in Social Work at Washington University. He also was the co-host of a local Missouri TV show called "Enterate," which aired through My46TV (MyNetworkTV). In 2007 Carlos Antonio was chosen to play "Lazarus," a Latin vampire in the award winning indie sensation "Shadowland" for Pirate Pictures. He later acted in a short indie film titled "PIED2K," a burlesque comedy for MarketProductions. In 2009, Carlos Antonio played the lead in a new comedy directed by award winning director Luis Armando Roche titled "De Repente, La Pelicula," which was filmed in Venezuela. Mini Biography By: Michelle Gonzales 

More Info:

Shadowland - Actor: Carlos Antonio León

The Suave Carlos Antonio León... talent that comes from around the world...
[2vs8]: When did you know you wanted to be an actor, and how did you take your first steps towards your goal?

Carlos Antonio León: I wanted to be an actor my whole life. I cannot recall the exact time when I made such decision but it probably happened while in elementary school. I was chosen to play a Prince in a school act and I remember loving all the attention, applause, and the feeling of being on stage. That hooked me up! As soon as I graduated from High school I started looking for acting schools. I was accepted at CIFALC (in Venezuela) which was the most popular acting school among soap actors and the rest is history.

[2vs8]: What was this like compared to your almost all Spanish roles in your past?

Carlos Antonio León: You know, it was not as different as some people might think. Acting is acting and it truly does not matter what language you’re using to convey it. You love similarly in every culture, you hate similarly in every culture. Laughter is laughter regardless of language. Feelings are universal. All I needed to do, instead of focusing on the language and the cultural variation, was to focus on making “Lazarus” a believable character. That was my main concern.

[2vs8]: Tell us about your career and some of the highlights, was this your first film?

Carlos Antonio León: If not please elaborate? My career in Venezuela was pretty diverse. I cannot do just ONE THING. I have to explore other alternatives. I may have HDAD (ha!). Thus in Venezuela I did theater while at the same time I was a dancer for a hit TV show, and in my “spare” time I was a host for public events. Never mind that I was a producer of fashion shows and was doing print jobs as a model. I was also an impersonator and used to imitate popular Venezuelan singers in nocturnal shows. I also worked on radio making voice overs. I did TV (soaps) which I never liked because of the stiffness required to make the characters to look and sound “soap like”…I never liked the rhythm of working on TV. The rushing, the anxiety, the “no time to study your character deeply”…and I hate memorization (which is a must for soaps). Shadowland became my very first feature film. I can now officially say I’ve worked in all media venues: theater, TV, radio, Film, print…

[2vs8]: How did the role come about for "Shadowland" and what were your first thoughts?

Carlos Antonio León: The role of Lazarus came in a very strange way. An agent in my talent agency made it very hard for director Wyatt Weed to audition me. The agent was pointing out at my “heavy accent” (have you ever heard Penelope Cruz?? And she won an Oscar!). Wyatt kept insisting on having me audition and finally we all met. I did the audition once and few days later they called me to offer me the role. I was ecstatic!! My first thoughts were “OMG…a movie??...a real one?”  You see, I was OUT of the showbiz for a long time, so when I got Shadowland, my anxiety went way up. I thought “can I still act?”

[2vs8]: How was working with the cast and the director for the first time?

Carlos Antonio León: AWESOME! These guys were amazing. Work was hard and for very long hours during a very HOT Missouri summer (meaning: very HUMID). We were wearing period clothes and it was very difficult to endure the waiting while all dressed up like that (never mind the make-up: fake facial hair, contact lenses, fake fangs, etc). But the camaraderie was great. No attitudes, no divas, just simple people. I was coming from experiences that were totally different: people with attitudes, bunch of divas and wannabes, etc., you know, the TV crowd. But with Shadowland, showbiz got vindicated. The important thing was not “me” but “us” and I truly loved that.

[2vs8]: Tell us a funny story that happened on the set of "Shadowland"?
Carlos Antonio León: Oh boy! You’re asking the right person! It may sound funny now but it was not at the time. It all has to do with make up. As a vampire, Lazarus needed to display a menacing pair of eyes (all black with a white dot in the middle). You have NO IDEA of how hard was to put those lenses on (they were HUGE and cover the entire eye ball). And once they were on, you have no idea of how difficult was to endure them. I could not see properly, at some point I was so blind that was saying my lines to the wrong person, never mind my eyes never stop tearing up….that, along with the fake mustache (made out of a wig that, piece by piece was glued—yep, you read it right, glued—to my skin and obviously kept falling on my lips and inside my mouth every time I try to speak…AND (like if that was not enough) then they brought the “blood” (chocolate syrup with grenadine) and things got really sticky and messy! 

[2vs8]: Outside of acting what do find yourself being passionate about?

Carlos Antonio León: I am very passionate about human rights. Besides acting I am also a social worker and thru that, I’ve been exposed to many issues that were non-existent to me in the past. I am concerned with the political situation in my country, Venezuela, it troubles me the direction it is taking. I am very concerned with the expansion of government into our lives here in the USA. I think we all should be free to chose the life we all want to live and no one should impose or step on the rights of others. I am very passionate about mental illnesses and the way to educate people about them and create awareness regarding funding and finding cures. We don’t live in a vacuum. We all need to get involved.

[2vs8]: 100 years into the future, what do you want to be remembered for?

Carlos Antonio León: Wow! Tough one! But if anything, I want to be remembered for my activism and the way I try to make others live better.

[2vs8]: What is your next project or what your are currently working on?

Carlos Antonio León: It’s called DE REPENTE, LA PELICULA (loosely translated as “suddenly, the movie”). It’s a farce, dark comedy filmed entirely in Venezuela under Luis Armando Roche’s direction. I truly enjoyed making that film. It was all based on improvs and good comedic timing. I felt so free to do whatever I wanted with my character. It’s amazing how natural, sincere, spontaneous a character can be when the actors are set free. We only got to do three table readings and after that, Luis told us “I don’t want memorizations, or script repetitions…I want you all to base your lines on the script but feel free to CREATE your characters…I don’t want to se “acting”…I want to see “characters”’…It was amazing how that help us all. The movie will be coming out in Venezuelan theaters by early 2011.

[2vs8]: What scares you?

Carlos Antonio León: Hatred. Extremists and radicalism. That’s worse than any horror story.

[2vs8]: Advice you would like to pass along to a stranger?

Carlos Antonio León: Live life at its fullest. We won’t be here for ever. ENJOY NOW.

[2vs8]: What is the nicest thing a fan has given you, while you have been involved with "Shadowland"?

Carlos Antonio León: Passion! Once during a Film Festival screening in Orlando a Vampire fan came to me (wearing her custom made fangs, no less) and told me that she was very happy with my work on the movie. She never took those fangs off while talking to me. It gave me the creeps but at the same time it made me realize how much passion a movie like Shadowland can inspire on others. During the same festival a woman jump out the pool and stuck her right boob in my mouth…Oh wait! That was totally unrelated. She did not know anything about Shadowland. My bad! 

Shadowland - Awards And Screenings

This film is getting all the buzz, and here is some of the things you may have missed:
Heart of England International Film Festival (Tamsworth, UK)
Athens International Film Festival (Athens, Greece)
ConNooga Multi-Fandon Convention and Film Fest (Chattanooga, TN)
Sedona International Film Festival (Sedona, Arizona)
Bourne To Die Horror Film Festival (Christchurch, Dorset, UK)
St. Louis International Film Festival (St. Louis, MO)
Piasa Film Festival (Wood River, IL)
Halloween Horror Picture Show (St. Pete’s Beach, FL)
Freakshow Horror Film Festival (Orlando, FL)
• BEST ACTRESS: Caitlin McIntosh
Otrocine (Bogóta, Colombia)
Archon Sci Fi and Fantasy Convention (Collinsville, IL)
St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase (St. Louis, MO)
• BEST ACTRESS: Caitlin McIntosh

Shadowland - Director: Wyatt Weed

I had the great opportunity to talk with the Director of the film "Shadowland", which gets it's DVD Release at the end of this month.  I wanted to thank him for his time, and all the success that with come with this film.

[2vs8] Do you prefer to be known as writer or a director, which gives you better notoriety?

Wyatt Weed: I think my attitude and cockiness is what gives me notoriety...wait, let me rephrase that...
Seriously, I like being a director. Even so, I feel that the writing is a natural part of that, a necessity, really. I am always coming up with stories, so I write them down. That began at an early age, and has just continued since then. To be honest, I think any director who doesn't have some sense of writing and script structure shouldn't be directing. I also think that a writer who sells his script should then just sit down and shut up while it's being directed. If you don't want to suffer through someone else's interpretation, don't sell the script, or direct it yourself.
I would be happy to direct scripts that I didn't write, but I haven't come across many that I like. But please, DO NOT SEND ME YOUR SCRIPTS! You should practice your writing for years and then go through normal channels, because that will then give you experience as to how the industry works and you will have a better sense of what is involved. You can't just sell your script when you meet a filmmaker at a festival or a screening. They won't take you seriously, because EVERYONE tries that. It's too much of a shortcut, too much of a cheat.

[2vs8] How did this project "Shadowland" come about, and was this your first full length project?

Wyatt Weed: Shadowland was my first feature, but it was in the making for a while. Through the 90's, I worked on a lot of low budget films in LA with and for filmmaker friends. I was coming up through the ranks pretty quickly - FX supervisor, associate producer, producer, co­-writer, second unit director - and it seemed like I would be one of the next in line to get a film. But after a couple of failed starts and one pilot for television, I just wasn't getting a break. I was getting older (I'm 46 now) and it just seemed like my chance was passing me by. Tough to crack the glass ceiling when they think you're too old to understand the younger demographic...
So 2003 rolls around and my good friend Ted Smith got a film off the ground, "Guardian of the Realm", and that film was financed by his old friend from St. Louis, Robert Clark. I was very involved in Guardian, and when that film was over, Robert wanted to do another film, but not in LA. He asked if anyone was interested in working in the Midwest, and I was the only one who was interested. It seemed like a reasonable roll the dice, something different. Strategically, I was making myself a big fish in a small pond. I moved back to St. Louis in 2006, and we got into Shadowland just a few months later.
The IDEA for Shadowland actually came about while I was walking by a construction sight in LA one night. There was a huge hole in the ground, and for the life of me it seemed like the angel statues on the nearby buildings were watching over the hole. What were they watching for? What was in that hole? A demon? A monster? A mysterious woman? Hey, wait a minute, let me write that down...
a. If not please tell us about your previous works and a little about yourself.
OK, it Shadowland WAS my first feature, but I'm still going to answer this question...
I was born in Central Illinois, Springfield, to be exact, and I always loved movies. My parents watched a lot of movies, so I did too, and I really took to them. I was artistic, and my parents encouraged it. I always had a sense of story and drama, even when I would play with toys. GI Joe would have intricate adventures that went on all summer long, and I would invent reasons why all the other toys could intermix, even if they were from different time frames or scales. Other dimensions. Time travel. Experiments. I got very creative.
Obviously, I became a filmmaker. But I realized at about 24 that the Midwest, at that time, wasn't really where it was happening. LA was where the films were being made. Ironic that one day I would end up back in the Midwest, and that's where I would get my break...but anyway, I moved to LA in 1988 and did everything - I mean everything. Art department, models, acting, make-up - you name it, I did it. Except porn.
Some of my biggest credits were in FX work - Flight of the Intruder, Mission: Impossible 2, Guyver 1 and 2, Star Trek: Voyager, Jay-Jay the Jet Plane, Red Planet, and a lot of crap I won't name but that was fun to work on and paid the bills. My acting gigs were pretty cool - Star Trek: The Next Generation, Predator 2 ( yes, I was a predator) and a lot of other stuff that you'll see me in but that I didn't get a credit in. I still like acting, but I decided that directing was more important to me, so I shifted more toward that.
You know, I actually worked on a pilot for a series called "Sunset Beat" with George Clooney, back when no one knew who he was. I even worked on an episode of "Roswell" with a young Katherine Heigl. Oh my god, she was such a little puppy at the time.

[2vs8] What are some of the biggest struggles from page to movie, is it more difficult when you are the director?

Wyatt Weed: It is very easy to type something on the page like, "And then there was great battle", and not think about how that battle is going to get accomplished. As a writer-director, I'm always thinking, "How am I going to do that?" I try not to let that hinder the creative process, because you always want to push yourself, but you can't get nuts when you don't have millions and millions to spend. Even in Shadowland there were scenes where my vision was more epic than what ended up on screen. Hell, that's film-making 101, but it's also why low-budget films with too much vision always end up looking cheap - the resources aren't focused. They are spread too thin.
As the director, however, I am in tune with what my original intent was as the writer, so I can interpret and re-write on the fly, on the set. If something isn't working, or we suddenly end up with 6 men instead of the army I envisioned, I can adjust based on the intention of the scene, and try to keep the original meaning intact. It also allows me to see better opportunities as they arise, and take input from people on set. I don't have to run off and consult with the writer - I just change hats and do it right there, on the spot.

[2vs8]: Vampires have never really died, but with the recent success of the "Twilight" series from books to screen has given a new look upon them. Were you influenced to write a vampire story because of the craze, or did you write it because it was not a typical vampire story? Do you find people are more open to your film, because of the surge of vampire press or shunned of it for the same reasons?

Wyatt Weed: I have always liked vampire films myself, and I lean toward the more serious productions, like "Interview With the Vampire", which I think is the finest vampire film ever made. I liked the first "Blade" film a lot, and I have a spot in my heart for all of the old Hammer Films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. But as of the mid-2000's, there really hadn't yet been a vampire resurgence, just a new film or book every few years.
When I got the green-light to make a feature film, I had several scripts written already, but none that I could do really cheaply. Then I remembered walking by that construction site in LA, and thought I could turn that inspiration into an interesting low-budget horror film. But I was reluctant to do a vampire film right out the gate - there's enough of those, and I didn't think the world needed one more. But the story just screamed to be a vampire film, so I decided early on that if we were going down the vampire road, we would treat it seriously.
I actually began writing Shadowland in November of 2006. Twilight had already been published, but I hadn't heard of it yet, and we really didn't begin hearing about it until after we had finished shooting in 2007. By then Twilight had become a pretty loud voice, and you were seeing Stephenie Meyer's name in places like Time magazine on a regular basis. By the time we went to San Diego Comic Con in 2008, that voice had become a roar! San Diego was also the first we heard of True Blood. We were like, "Oh great - what the hell is this?!?"
The frustration is that we are a small band of people working with limited means, and it has taken us forever to get the film out there. The perception could be that we are cashing in on a craze, but the truth is that vampire fans are eating it up, so it really hasn't hurt us. In fact, we could never have made this big of a splash on our own, so riding the crest of this vampire wave has been really lucky for us. Awareness is really up right now.
No one has yet accused us of cashing in, but what does happen is that fans disagree over "The Rules". Should vampires be allergic to sunlight, or not? Should they be able to eat and drink other things besides blood? The rules go on and on, and Shadowland played around with them a little bit. Some fans are open minded. Others are strict, and if you don't stick to a particular set of guidelines, they reject you on principle. Average moviegoers just watch, and they either enjoy your film or they don't.

[2vs8]: How is the process of finding actors done, and how did you know you found your cast and your main leads?

Wyatt Weed: As with everything in a film, you have to have a vision. You have to see a character, and that guides what you describe to a casting director, who puts out requests for different types to come and audition. It helps to be flexible - sometimes you describe a character, and the casting director will think outside the box, or suggest casting against type, which leads to interesting results.
Then you audition actors. God, lots of actors. You see many who are horrible, then you see more who are good, but aren't right for the part. Then you get that feeling - it clicks. A performance that touches what you saw in your head, or a quality comes through. You get a glimmer, and then you see if you can coach it and draw it out of the actor further. Sometimes you just like and communicate with an actor, and that's huge, having a connection. It makes the work so much easier.
As for determining if I had the right actor, I must admit it was a different process for each one of the three leads. Caitlin was a slow burn - we liked her, and she transformed into the character as I re-wrote the character and worked with her. Jason's performance was good from the get-go, I just had to be sure he could be physical enough. Carlos was right from the first audition.
 a. First thoughts - Caitlin McIntosh?
Wow. A real woman. Spunky. Fun. Vibrant personality. Quick - read her for the lead role...
 b. First thoughts - Carlos Antonio León?
Could a man BE prettier? A gentleman, an old-fashioned, good guy. Thoughtful, educated. Very considerate.
 c. First thoughts - Jason Contini?
A younger version of me. I can't play the role myself, but hiring Jason will be the next best thing. Strong voice. Likes to laugh. GOOD karaoke singer...
 d. First thoughts - on any or all of the rest of the cast?
Don McClendon (The Bishop) - saw him in a play, thought he would be a great bishop, and was the only actor I ever considered for the part.
Dale D. Moore (The Pastor) - a great guy, but a really creepy character actor. He was the only actor we read for that part as well, and he freaked the producer out so badly that I decided he had to be the guy to play the part.
Donna Parroné (Mother) - Beautiful skin. Like porcelain on film.
Stephanie Kronenberg (Sister) - an old fashioned movie star face. Think Kim Novak, Grace Kelly. This actress could be huge. Keep an eye on her.
Bill Stine (Father) - Authority. Turn of the last century. You believe him. 
Brock Roberts (Cop) - fly paper for women.
John Bratkowski (Cop) - like my dad, only different...
Erin Callahan (Cashier) - How could anyone that sweet play BITCHY so well?!?
Taylor Louderman (Obnoxious Girl) - Should be on "Glee"...but at the time I probably thought she should be in the next Lindsey Lohan film as a competitive high school friend, something like "Mean Girls 2: Girls Strike Back".
Nicole Cummins (Obnoxious Girl) - Is it wrong to have a crush on such a young girl? She's just so damn CUTE! She needs to be in a movie where Robert Pattinson sucks on her neck...
David Martyn Conley, Jay Kelley, and Robert Nolan Clark ( Cook, Homeless Guy, and Digger) - all actors who I had known and worked with previously, these guys I cast for what I knew they could do. David can be very strong in a subtle role, Jay I've known for 30 years, and I can trust him with the tricky, thankless roles, and Rob can do funny and serious back to back, on the turn of a dime. And he looks like he could dig a mile of ditch in a day.

[2vs8]: How are the composers picked for this or any project? How did you get connected with Patrick Savage and Holeg Spies, and did you have any input to what the final score was to sound like?

Wyatt Weed: A composer should fit the project, should complement the feel that you are going for. Sometimes you use different composers for different projects, depending on the mood, but some composers are also capable of doing different things, working in different styles and with different instruments.
Patrick Savage actually contacted us through the internet. He was looking for films to work on, and I think he found us on the Imdb or found our Myspace page maybe. But when we heard his demo reel, it sounded so good we didn't think we'd be able to afford him. We got lucky because he didn't have a lot of feature film credits and wanted to do our project.
As for mood changes, Patrick works with a man named Holeg Spies, and Holeg has a different style, so the two are good team, taking on different parts of the film when it calls for a change, yet they were complimentary.
When I edited the film, I had certain music in my head, mostly drawn from other films I'd seen. I borrowed tracks from about 20 films, everything from Evil Dead 2 to Superman Returns to The Fugitive and Signs. I used a ton of James Newton Howard, and built this really complex temp score, mainly to give Patrick and Holeg a sense of tone and pace.
Using that temp track as inspiration, they would start composing themes, and we worked out those themes first - a main theme, a love theme, an action motif, a theme for Julian, the vampire hunter, and so on. They then started weaving those themes into scenes throughout the film, and started sending me temp tracks that I would place against the scenes, and test how they played. 80% of the time they nailed it. The other percent was me being picky, and I would usually try to speak in emotional terms because I'm not a composer and didn't want to tell them how to do it, so I would say "not dramatic enough", or "too militaristic" and then let them adjust accordingly. 
One of the scenes I was really picky about was when Laura walks back into her home town for the first time since she has re-awakened after a century of sleeping. I was really going for a tone, and I think Patrick did about 4 or 5 passes on that scene. We also worked a lot on the very end scene in the church, which is just a big scene emotionally. 
This entire process was done over the internet, by the way. We met Patrick once, and after that all of the time-coded footage and the music tracks were passed back and forth through FTP sites. Patrick is in England, and Holeg is in France.

[2vs8]: Will there be a score released for the film?

Wyatt Weed: We would like to release both a score and a CD featuring the songs from the film, but like everything, it takes time, and we just haven't had much of that lately. Hopefully those two CDs will be along soon.

[2vs8]: When did you know you wanted to be a director/writer? Who are some of your personal influences from writers to directors? 
Wyatt Weed: I started making films shortly after Star Wars came out, but there was a seminal moment where I was watching "The Making of Star Wars" at a local university in 1981 and there was a scene of the stars hanging out behind camera, just goofing off. They were having SO much fun, and the scene just stuck with me. It was great. I wanted to DO that, be involved in that... 
Directors? Classic directors that I really admire are John Sturges, Richard Fleischer, Howard Hawks, Michael Curtiz, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, Billy Wilder, Byron Haskin, Robert Wise, and Otto Preminger. These were directors who could tell a story in one shot, keep the dialogue moving, and weren't afraid to let a scene breath occasionally. They could make you focus on exactly what they wanted you to within the frame.
Modern directors - Spielberg, of course, plus Richard Donner, Danny Boyle, David Fincher, Martin Campbell, James Cameron, Robert Zemekis, and a few others I can't think of at the moment. I keep my eye on J.J. Abrams - I thought "MI:3" was pretty damn good, and "Star Trek" was just flat out great. I like Zack Snyder, but I'm not ready to call him a classic yet, though "300" will have a place in history books. I think "Watchmen" SHOULD, but won't.
For writing, I go back to Howard Hawks. That guy could make dialogue fly. Ernest Lehman was great, and of course, the amazing William Goldman. Re-watch "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" any time and listen closely. In the modern era, I learned a lot from television writers. "The West Wing" was some of the best stuff I've ever heard or seen, and that's mainly Aaron Sorkin. "United States of Tara" and "Glee" are both quite good, and that's Ms. Diablo Cody and Ryan Murphy, who are really cutting edge. "The C Word" is very good. "Californication" surprises me every time I watch it.
Clearly, I watch a lot of uncensored cable stuff...

[2vs8]: What scares you?

Wyatt Weed: Lawn darts. No not really, I love lawn darts...I think they should bring those back, the metal ones that kill...
What really scares me is deep, dark water. Try swimming two or three hundred yards out to sea with a mask on, looking down into the deep dark water off one of the Channel Islands near Southern California, where Great Whites hang out and have been spotted recently. That will make your stomach flip.

[2vs8]: When finding locations to shoot, what was that one place you said in your head, we have to shoot there?

Wyatt Weed: In 2005, I was scouting locations for a short film and came across an alley that was only about 6 feet wide and about 100 feet long. It was dark and gloomy, all old brick and wood and very creepy. I jokingly said, "We have got to come back here and shoot a vampire film someday", and we did. There was also a church here in St. Louis, St. Francis Xavier, that I REALLY wanted to shoot in, and we finally got permission. The scenes are beautiful, but the irony is that these scenes got cut from the film.
While filming how did the townspeople react to you taking over parts of their town?
Most people were great, and welcomed us with open arms. They were really excited about a film being made in their area, and realized that it might pay off someday, either through tourism or by other films coming through. One night we had a few hundred people gathered around, sitting on the curb, watching us shoot. It was a party. Most times people asked who was in it, took photos, asked when it was coming out, and if they could get a copy.
A few people hated it, though. They didn't like having their daily routine interrupted. "How dare you park a production truck here? Don't you know I drive this way every day?!? What do you mean, I HAVE TO GO AROUND THE BLOCK???"
Can you imagine being that narrow? It isn't like we were Transformers 3 - we weren't shutting down 10 city blocks and blowing stuff up. And we didn't shoot at any one location for longer than a day.

[2vs8]: How does it feel when someone asks you for an autograph or says, "Hey, I loved your movie?"

Wyatt Weed: It feels really great, just a huge dose of validation. You had a vision, and someone else picked up on it and understood it. They like you - they really like you! But it can also be a little scary when someone seems to know a lot about you, starts to recite your resume, and so on. And I'm not really very well known! I can now imagine what it must be like for a Brad Pitt to try and just walk down the street. Sometimes you don't want to talk about the film, but you have to - it's your job. You gave this to the public, and now you're out in public, so you can't be rude - people won't understand. You have to take the time and talk. But 99% percent of the time, it's great.

[2vs8]: How do you pick the next project and can you discuss it? What is your process?
Wyatt Weed: Well...I know what I WANT to do, but economics is a big factor in anything that has to do with film-making. I would love to move on and do either my Sinbad project or my real-life story about a police incident, but we really have to see just how successful Shadowland is first. If it is very successful, I'l be able to do either of those projects. If Shadowland is huge, people will want a sequel - and I have one in mind, trust me.
What we're learning right now is the reality of the current DVD market and that will help guide us into our next choice, by looking at what is selling in the market right now and what isn't. That won't be the sole decision-making factor for us, but let's face it, if we can't get people to buy a movie, it won't make money. If we can't make money, no one will give me more money to make another film. Art is great, but it is nice to earn a living while doing this. I think art and common-sense commerce can meet in the middle somewhere.
As for a process, it would be nice to just go after what I was pumped up about at any given time. But until I am more financially bankable, what I really have to do is look at what is available to me in terms of resources and see if it matches up with anything I have written. I hear a lot of people say, "Hey, I have an empty apartment and two actors who want to do a film". Well, that's great if you have a script for that situation, but I usually don't - my version of that would involve the two actors, the apartment, an inter­-dimensional doorway, and a demon army.
What I AM trying to do on the next few projects is make them a bit smaller - because I don't want to spend four years on each film I do - and I want to get some name actors involved. That will help us from a sales standpoint, and I think it would be fun to work with some name actors. If I can do a few smaller films and continue to be successful, then I'll start going back to some of my dream projects.

[2vs8]: Funny story on the set, that makes you laugh?

Wyatt Weed: One day about half way through shooting, we were all getting along really well together and hanging out eating lunch. We all started acting like dinosaurs, trying to figure out how dinosaurs would survive in a modern environment. "Sure, Tyrannosaurus Rex was king of the dinosaurs, but could he eat with a fork?" One of us would impersonate T-Rex, with his short stubby arms trying to reach his own mouth with a fork, and wackiness just ensued. It went on for the whole lunch - t-rex driving a car, velociraptors drinking from cups - and we laughed as hard as I can remember laughing. I spotted.

[2vs8]: Three words that describe you?

Wyatt Weed: Focused. Passionate. Animated.

[2vs8]: and last... A word of wisdom someone passed to you, that you would like to pass onto someone else?

Wyatt Weed: A WORD of wisdom? I don't know about a "word", but three or four phrases come to mind...
"Nothing to it but to do it." This philosophy covers everything, from the person you don't want to fire to the bad news you have to deliver, to just getting up off your ass and making it happen. Those words come back to me over and over in my life.
"Don't do business with someone who hasn't done business successfully before." Hard to follow, because sometimes you need to give people a break, and sometimes they need to give you a break, but generally, whenever I don't follow this rule, it all goes to hell in a hand basket.
"Form follows function." This is a design principle - if the thing is to go fast, make it long and sleek. If it is to knock things over, it will be big and bulky. But it also applies to business and life - if the thing is to be successful, then you want to be well-planned and efficient. If the thing is to be happy, then find a way to do what you enjoy and make it pay. Form. Follows. Function.
And last but not least, one of my favorites: 
"Memos are like bullets - and you don't want to shoot at your friends." This made sense back in the 90's when I first heard it, but it's even more relevant now. You can't blurt out something hurtful or angry on paper and just pass it along. That's worse than if you'd said it face to face. You have to be just as careful and thoughtful in writing as when you speak. Now, in the unaccountable days of internet talk back and blogging, people REALLY need to think before they shoot.