An Invitation to Darkness and DoomBack to Top | Back to Home
Last Sunday morning about 10:45am, the phone rang. Pinellas-based filmmaker and PCR contributor Chris Woods was on the other end asking if I'd like to visit the set of "A Quiet Place", the short horror movie being talked about by nearly every filmmaker in Tampa. The reason it's garnered such buzz is because nearly every filmmaker in Tampa is a part of the cast and crew in one way or another.
I vaguely remember the boys talking about it during the last Tampa Film Review meeting, and I also remember Joe Davison, along with Chris, had struggled to convey to me the details during numerous phone calls I answered half-asleep (my work-sleep schedule is the bane of my existence, believe me). I remember thinking I'd love to go to the set, an old, abandoned cigar-factory in Ybor City, but that logistics dealing with work-sleep-transportation hassles prevented me from forming any definite game plan for doing so. I'm not even sure I remembered what weekend they were shooting on.
But Sunday, Chris's timing was good -- I had been home from the hell-pit of despair (my night job) only a few hours and was wide awake watching one of those morning news-chat shows when his call came in. I said I'd try and find transportation to Ybor and, if I was lucky, might get there about noon (I was so jazzed at this point I'd even considered hiring a cab at least one way). As luck would have it, low-budget legend Guz Perez was sitting idly at home when my call came to him. Plans were quickly set. After a brief delay to videotape black helicopters flying over from MacDill AFB(!), we left for Ybor.
The Haunted Set
The cigar factory in question is pretty non-descript from the outside. If we'd not gotten exact directions from Chris we'd've easily missed it. The reason it's available right now is the new owners have plans for the old building, but have generously lent it to the filmmakers (the Guzzo Bros were the brokers of this deal, I believe). So, with Damien Kincannon set to helm a script by Chris Woods, starring Joe Davison and Harmony Oswald, production began.
Plot outline: Two parents (Davison and Oswald) are looking for their runaway daughter. They arrive at this creepy halfway house/foster home, her last known location. They enter a waiting area and find there other parents, also looking for their lost children. Suddenly...the lights go out. When they come back on moments later, the waiting room is gone and the parents find themselves in another place, tho still in the old building, and perhaps even in another time. As they stumble in confusion, they must also focus on their primary directive: their lost children. Things turn even darker quickly, as clues found on the premises unlock shocking secrets, lies and scandals. One other thing to note: not everyone will survive this journey.
Among the first one to greet us was actor Joe Davison (Unearthed), who informed us we'd just missed the "big fight scene" (thanks to Gus's stop for the black helicopters). I guess when we see the movie we'll know what the "big fight scene" was.
Chris Woods led us up two flights of stairs (groan) in near one-hundred degree heat (no A.C. in the whole building, yikes), in a dusty and dirty environment (cough, choke) to see so many familiar faces standing in this area happy to be there! This is where I heartily commend the stalwart Tampa filmmakers in dealing with this hideous environment for up to 16 hours a day(!) to take advantage of this location to film their movie. I'll be honest with you, if I had any doubts I don't now: my days of crewing in these conditions are long over, I don't know how these kids do it. Even if I'd had a full day's sleep (which I hadn't) it would be a challenge.
Damien and Josh Kincannon, Peter and Paul Guzzo, Chris Passinault, Joe Davison, Chris Woods, Craig Kovach, Harmony Oswald, and Paul Bigotti are just a few of the faces I recall off the top of my head that were present in that little sweat box of a room, preparing to film the next scene.
Due to our later-than-planned arrival (after 1:00pm) and the fact that I was already sleep-deprived, this scene is the only one we were able to witness and document. A door slams a girl (Anne Marie Spizuoco) into a small, red-lit room. Fairly non-descript, right? Well, they boys are taking this very seriously as several takes were required before director Damien Kincannon was satisfied the door slammed in just the right way. And that the girl screamed on cue. I watched over cameraman Pete Guzzo's shoulder to glimpse his monitor to ensure we were watching the same thing, haha. After the final take, the order was given to break everything down and move into a room downstairs for the next scene. I decided now was the time to break out my video camera and try and get some quick interviews.
Everyone on set was extremely courteous to Gus and me. We tried to be careful and consider they were all very busy and mostly in various stages of an extreme rush, but generally speaking, it was quite an eye-opening experience.
Among the most amazing encounters was the make-up room with underground legend Marcus Koch (ROT, Unearthed, among others), who was applying severe burn make-up to relative newcomer Krystal Marie Badia (Hand Delivery). Keep this in mind: she is sitting in a room that's about a hundred degrees, covered nearly head to foot in skin-tight latex burn make-up. Thankfully, there's a fan on nearby (not sure if she can feel it). These people are troopers. Marcus and his assistant, Ally, were so engrossed in the project they scarcely noticed their environment.
I met several other cast and crew (Paul Guzzo and Shelby MacIntyre among others) who will be seen whenever I can get the video put together and uploaded (hopefully, later this weekend, no guarantees). Besides interviews there'll be some home movies of the pizza break.
According to Damien, A Quiet Place will be ready to creep out the public sometime around the first of the year.
All photos used in this article courtesy of Chris Passinault, ©2006
All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ę2006 by Nolan B. Canova.