Graveyard Dogs: Q&A With The Team Behind Indie Plantation Horror
Last month we featured the exciting new ‘Southern Gothic Plantation Horror’ Graveyard Dogs as an Indie Buzz. An independent film set in the depths of pre-Civil War South, the plot focuses on the romance between a slave and the son of her owner, which becomes threatened when the mangled corpses of runaway slaves start to appear in the woods.
We’ve since been lucky enough to catch up with producer Chris Hines, writer and co-director Micah Hudson and co-director Edwin Hammond. Read their interview with Emma Knock below…
Hi Micah, Edwin and Chris, thanks for chatting with us about your upcoming film. Firstly, can you give us a little background on Graveyard Dogs?
Micah: The script for Graveyard Dogs was written last summer. Then, we filmed the trailer in November. Since then, we’ve been in post-production and doing all of the grunt work that comes along with putting together a fundraising package (business plan, pitch deck, etc.) Shooting the trailer was a blast and has definitely been the highlight! We had so many wonderful people volunteer their time—including a great DP named Jarrett Morgan and his crew. It was an amazing collaboration of talents. We were also fortunate to have access to the perfect location. We shot at a house that was built in the early 1800s which still has an original slave quarters behind it.
Micah, where did the inspiration for the screenplay come from and how did you all come together to work on Graveyard Dogs?
Micah: I knew that I wanted to write a script set in the region—that was the first inspiration. After that, I had to figure out the time period, tone, etc. It just sort of grew from there.
Chris: I met Micah at a Film Athens networking event. Film Athens is a community of Filmmakers, Actors, Crew and Film Enthusiasts in Athens, GA. We hit it off and he sent me a copy of a script he had written. After reading it, I said “I’m going to cash in my 401K and make this movie.” Luckily I am married and my wife said, “No, you are not.” That script was not Graveyard Dogs. So Micah wrote a short story that was the beginning of Graveyard Dogs. It was fantastic. I showed it to Edwin, who I had worked with on several projects and he loved it as well. We suggested he turn it into a feature script. He did just that. After reading the Graveyard Dogs script, I knew that we had to make this film. From there everything started to fall into place.
Edwin: Chris and I have worked together on several projects before and he knew I was on the lookout for a script. I saw the initial short story that became Graveyard Dogs and was hooked from the get go. I agreed with Chris that the story was just too good to only do it as a short, so we asked Micah to expand it to a full length feature. I already knew from reading the short that I wanted to direct it, and once I read the full feature script, it just cemented my involvement.
So far we know very few details about the plot of Graveyard Dogs, but just enough so that we are massively intrigued, can you share any other details with us?
Micah: It’s hard to top “massively intrigued.” We should probably just leave it there.
Chris: I would recommend staying away from the woods. Bad things happen in those woods.
Edwin: It’s a very unique story that takes some familiar elements and blends them together with something you’ve never seen before. Think Romeo & Juliet meets Jack the Ripper with a dash of Django Unchained thrown in for good measure.
Micah: Or, maybe Django meets The Evil Dead.
We know you’re looking for fundraising to help get the ball rolling on production, how can people get involved?
Chris: An excellent question! We are very close to revving up a Kickstarter campaign. Folks can check out our Facebook page and get the latest info on our development and pre-production. We will post there first when we get our start date. There will be lots of chances to help out with the film and receive a bunch of behind the scenes info and swag. An easy way to pitch in is to help champion our cause! Spread the word about Southern Gothic Plantation Horror. Anyone interested in becoming a part of the Graveyard Dogs Underground just need message us. For individuals that might be interested in investing, we do have investor packets available as well. Become a part of our team.
Micah – you wrote the screenplay and are co-directing the feature with Edwin, which aspect have you enjoyed the most so far?
The best part of writing a script is when you get to share it. It’s much more fun to create with other people that you respect and enjoy being around.
Chris – as a producer what has been your biggest challenge to date?
The fact that we are doing a period piece is challenging. The Pre-Civil war era ratchets up the expenses and the workload but at the same time, that is what makes it interesting and unique. Every time an obstacle has appeared a solution comes right along. We have a very talented and creative group of people around us that work as a team. Anytime you have that, you can accomplish daring things.
Edwin and Micah – how have you found the process of co-directing? Have there been many creative differences or do you find that working together has really helped fuel your creativity?
Micah: I’m gonna let Edwin handle this one. He sums it up nicely.
Edwin: The process so far has been wonderful. Micah and I come together to form this superhuman mutant director amalgam where I bring my eye for shot composition and on set experience and combine it with Micah’s knowledge of the inner workings of the characters and the story. We’ve disagreed on a few things, but I straighten him out pretty quick. *Laughing* In all seriousness though, it’s been a very smooth process co-directing the film so far. I’m very much looking forward to shooting the full feature.
From seeing the production stills we can see that both the costumes and set appear very authentic of the time, how did you source these?
Chris: It was very important to all of us that the film looks authentic. For a lot of the talent involved, the time period was a big draw. We have the amazing Kate Sawyer on board to design our costumes and wardrobe. Kate works on a lot of major film productions but she liked the challenge of our story. We are lucky to have her. The farm we shot the trailer on is in Lexington, GA. It is owned by my friend Kathleen DeMarrais. We have been in a writing group together for three years. The original slave quarters are still intact behind the main house. Kathleen is also a historian and made sure that every piece of furniture and prop was from that time period. The people of Lexington were very warm and gracious. When Micah and I were looking for authentic set dressing, several people pitched in and helped us locate what we needed. We met a Civil war re-enactor that was very knowledgeable and helpful.
We know you’ve filmed the trailer – when can we expect to see it?
Chris: The trailer will be released on the day that our Kickstarter campaign kicks off in the very near future. Details will be on our Facebook page. Be on the look out for a short teaser.
What are your aspirations for Graveyard Dogs once it’s complete?
Chris: In a word, DISTRIBUTION. Everything will be on the table. We will go the festival route, attend AFM, seek foreign distribution and self-distribute if needed. We want to get Graveyard Dogs seen by as many people as possible. Happy investors = Repeat Investors. We want to make a film that everyone is proud to be a part of. We hope Graveyard Dogs can bring more attention to the growing film community in Athens, GA.
Micah: I suspect it’ll go something like this: Dominate the film festival circuit => Major theatrical release => Win the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Picture (although, I guess, I’d settle for one or the other) => After that they’ll probably invent some new award for us like “Greatest Film Of All Time… And That Includes The Future.” I like to keep my goals modest.
Edwin: Once it’s complete, I want a lotta eyeballs on this sucker! I hope it proves to be a first step towards many great things as a filmmaker.
What can horror fans expect from Graveyard Dogs?
Micah: It’s not like any horror film you’ve ever seen before. It’ll make Django shit his pants (that should be our new tagline).
Chris: Five types of blood, screams, visual violence with a thrilling story.
Edwin: Thrills, chills, manglings, mutilations, blood, guts… What more could you want?
Have you taken any inspiration from any well-known horror films?
Micah: I’ll have to go with The Evil Dead, again. It is, of course, a classic… and probably a cliché answer. I think it was more of a subconscious inspiration. It features haunted woods. Hint?
Edwin: I wouldn’t be able to say any specific films have inspired me for this project. I’m doing my best to bring my own unique vision to the screen. Surely there will be elements that I’ve absorbed from the loads of horror films I’ve seen, but nothing jumps out at me.
If you could work with anyone in the industry who would it be and why?
Micah: I’m a big fan of supporting your local film community first. One of our goals is to help grow the film scene in Athens, Georgia. That said, I’d love to work with local acting stud IronE Singleton from The Walking Dead.
Chris: I’d love to work with Guillermo del Toro. He creates such visually wonderfully haunting worlds. Also Javier Bardem, he can be a scary dude.
Edwin: Where to start? I’d enjoy geeking out with JJ Abrams for sure. Ridley Scott would be a dream to learn from as would David Fincher. Also Neil Blomkamp ‘cause District 9 was outstanding.
Do any of you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Micah: Yes, I have another script that is a continuation of the Southern Horror theme. It would be great to make that one after Graveyard Dogs. Once we win “Greatest Film Of All Time… And That Includes The Future” it should be much easier to procure funding.
Chris: The Graveyard Dogs graphic novel and also the first script of Micah’s. There is no shortage of scripts coming from the Film Athens community. Our goal is to help other local filmmakers make their features as well.
Edwin: Definitely have a few projects waiting to move forward on. Step 1 is Graveyard Dogs though.
Finally…what’s your favourite scary movie?
Micah: I’ll stand by my cliché. The Evil Dead!
Chris: Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellraiser
Edwin: Halloween. Scared the living shit out of me when I first saw it. Carpenter is a god. (Editor: Correct answer, Edwin – mine as well!)
Any last words?
Micah: Thank you, Horror Hothouse, for interviewing us!
Chris: Thanks for the interview! Love the blog! Encourage storytellers and filmmakers to get involved and make it happen!
Edwin: I’ll be right back… (Laughs) Thank you so much for the interview and for spotlighting our film. We can’t wait to come back and talk to you when the full feature is complete. You guys rock!
Don’t forget to follow Graveyard Dogs on Twitter at @GraveyardDogs and like them on Facebook.