Last week, I attended the 1st annual FEARnyc horror film festival in New York City’s Cinema Village. Director John Capo brought together 65 films during the week, including classics like The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, as well as a bevy of independent horror films, making their world and or NYC premiere. One of the films was Lost Creek. Made a on shoe-string budget of $30,000, director Colin Adams-Toomey and his co-writer Dan John Witherall, created a wonderfully original film that paid homage to favorites from the 80s, all the while creating something new and unique. The film is about three young kids, Peter and Bill (Oliver and Henry Stockman) are friends at school, and Maggie (Brynna Bartoo) is the strange girl Peter hangs out with in the woods. Together, they must unite to battle a monster that is channeling their fears and draining their small town of life. The film put the weight of the story on three unknown first time child actors, who at the time of filming were all under 13. After catching their film and cast and crew Q&A Sunday, I had an opportunity to speak with the creators on Thursday after the screening of Halloween.
Check out the interview below.
GeeksofDoom: I saw on the FEARnyc facebook page that you received an award the other night (there was an awards ceremony on Wednesday evening).
Witherall: Yes, we won the award for best ensemble which isn’t a jury award, more a founder’s award, which is really nice for the kids, it’s a huge compliment to them.
GeeksofDoom: Were the kids able to make it back for the awards?
Witherall: No, unfortunately.
GeeksofDoom: That was so awesome that they were here on Sunday.
Witherall: It was all great for them. They had the time of their lives.
GeeksofDoom: Are they going to continue acting? I know this was the first film role for them.
Witherall: Brynna is going to go further. She’s already looking into some schools, art schools and such. She’s 14 now, so I guess the time to do that is now.
At this point Colin Adams-Toomey joined us; he was talking to an editor from another film.
GeeksofDoom: I was saying congratulations for the award.
Adams-Toomey: Oh thank you. Those kids – they deserve it. They worked super duper hard. You know, this was their first time through this process, and I’m glad they’re getting recognition for it. Oliver [Stockman] just won Best Actor at Freakshow, and now they get this.
GeeksofDoom: Yeah, the award is for ensemble cast, but really it’s mainly the three kids the whole time.
Adams-Toomey: That’s also what I wanted, because the three of them are really great together. To hang a feature film on three kids, it’s a lot to ask of them.
GeeksofDoom: Personal and cinematic influences of Lost Creek?
Witherall: Well personal, you have to get from Colin because this is his love letter to his childhood.
Adams-Toomey: So there are definitely a couple of things, a feeling we’re trying to evoke is that 80s, you know – The Goonies, Explorers, Stand By Me, films like that, because I grew up with those films, and I really resonated with their depictions of childhood. I’d also say from a horror standpoint, I was interested in paying homage to horror films that I loved, because for me, that’s where you get that childhood imagination, that feeling of living in a world of imagination. I think Halloween really typifies that for me. And I feel as I’ve grown up, that’s where horror movies have gone. In some ways Evil Dead was a huge inspiration for us. Even more, I read Bruce Campbell’s autobiography on how they made Evil Dead and that was super inspiring. Just a bunch of friends with no money and little experience who sat down and thought “yeah we can do this.” That felt like us.
Witherall: Cinematically, writing with budget in mind, Mean Creek as well as a lot of Lars Von Trier. Definitely a lot of Scandinavian influence, at least for me.
Adams-Toomey: I’d say also one of my favorite horror movies of all time, Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat. I love that film, and it pays such homage to Halloween as a season, and really captures what Halloween is about to the point where we actually put a few references into the film. When Bill says, to stop by a certain house for the good candy, it’s the house of Dylan Baker’s character from that movie.
GeeksofDoom: That’s on the list of movies I have set up for him (pointing to my 12-year old) to watch.
Adams-Toomey: It’s a great film!
GeeksofDoom: Yeah, even films like Halloween, there’s almost no gore. Even one of the first films I watched at this festival, Texas Chainsaw, there is shockingly little gore there.
Adams-Toomey: For the themes and for what you think it’s going to be, it’s not.
GeeksofDoom: Okay, so what do you guys have up next on the horizon?
Witherall: Well we have two feature scripts lined up that we want to do, they’re not horror films.
Adams-Toomey: They’re adjacent to those ideas. One is sci-fi with a noir twist, and one of them is, we describe it as “Die Hard in a Convenient Store”. We want to do a nice black comedy, lots of action, very much genre.
Witherall: We do have a horror short film that we want to do called “Yarn” about an evil ball of yarn that attacks reality TV types in a cabin.
Colin Adams-Toomey: I don’t know if you got to see Head, the puppet film.
GeeksofDoom: I work late Mondays so I missed it, but I spoke to the producer, Chris [Gierowski] and wrote about the film.
Adams-Toomey: It’s along those lines
GeeksofDoom: Kinda like Rubber?
Adams-Toomey: Yes! Along those lines, kinda goofy and totally off the cuff.
GeeksofDoom: Yeah, trying to explain that movie to friends is so hard because they think you’re kidding, until you show them the trailer on YouTube.
Adams-Toomey: Yeah, show them the trailer, nope it’s a killer tire.
Witherall: I actually just saw Rubber for the first time and seeing that made me think, “I can do Yarn”
Adams-Toomey: So part of our thing is we’re looking for scripts based on what kind of budget we can raise, we looked at things like the noir we mentioned and “Puddles,” the Die Hard-convenience store one, those will be slightly smaller budgets. We have another horror film in the works that would be something where we’d need a much larger budget, so it’s really depending on budgeting what we can get next. Where we are right now is our priority is to sell Lost Creek, and try to get a VOD release. If we can get the bigger budget we’re looking make the larger picture.
GeeksofDoom: When I posted the review…
Adams-Toomey: Which by the way, thank you so much. The review was amazing.
GeeksofDoom: Thank you as well. A lot of friends read it and watched the trailer and were asking me where they can see it.
Adams-Toomey: We retained the VOD rights to the film, so we’re hoping for a VOD release in November, and we’re also looking for a larger release as well.
GeeksofDoom: That’s great, because it was really such a great little movie. Like I said in the review, it reminded me so much of Stand By Me, and parts towards the end really felt like the end of the first part of It.
Adams-Toomey: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Witherall: It was a great review. It was great that someone got it.
Adams-Toomey: That’s exactly the influence we wanted.
GeeksofDoom: Yeah, I mean the first few original movies I saw at FEARnyc were pure fun, 80s style splatter films. Lost Creek though felt like something totally different, something truly original while being an homage.
Witherall: Actually, we wanted to ask you if we can take a pull-out quote or two for the poster?
Adams-Toomey: Yeah would you mind if we did that?
Adams-Toomey: Ok awesome, fantastic, we loved the review, it was so good.
Witherall: To have it be called “genuine” and “authentic” just hit home for us, because it is.
GeeksofDoom: Well I really appreciate that too. So my final question, and sorry if I ramble, but was this your first movie?
Adams-Toomey: Our first feature, yes.
GeeksofDoom: So I’ve noticed a trend lately amongst young, up and coming, Indie filmmakers… Mike Flanagan for example made a few really low-budget horror movies, and then got to direct Ouija: Origin of Evil, and David Sandberg is doing Annabelle 2 now.
Witherall: Yes, Colin Trevorrow did Safety Not Guaranteed and then got to make Jurassic World.
GeeksofDoom: So I guess my question is, do you see a path where you go from this $30,000 movie, and then you’re working on the next big budget sequel?
Adams-Toomey: To be honest, we just want to make the films we want to make. So I’d say we’d obviously never turn down an opportunity to do a major film, but we would never leave indie horror either.
GeeksofDoom: Yes, that’s really what was surprising about Ouija: Origin of Evil was that it was a larger budget sequel but felt very indie and fresh.
Adams-Toomey: See that’s the thing, if we got the opportunity to do something like that, I would want to bring that quality. There’s no reason why a big budget horror film has to empty. There’s no reason it has to be lean.
Witherall: We always said if Marvel called us up, we’d sh*t our pants, but we’d say yes!
At that point, Colin and Dan were called in for another screening and our interview ended. These guys were just awesome. While conducting the interview it felt like I was just shooting the sh*t with some old friends from the video store days, roaming through the horror section. On a shoestring budget they created a wonderful little horror film in Lost Creek, that I feel will become an underground hit when it sees the light on VOD. Especially since Stranger Things has reinvigorated the kids vs. monsters story in the current cultural zeitgeist. I cannot wait to see what Colin Adams-Toomey and Dan John Witherall will do next (particularly Yarn, I can’t f*cking wait for Yarn). I will be following their careers right here at Geeks of Doom for a very long time.
Lost Creek Official Trailer 1 (2016) – Horror Movie HD