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A Writer's Verbal Freakout Upon Watching His First Produced Script

That's right, this one's as self-indulgent as they get: since I wouldn't dain to do observation notes on A Haunting in Salem - no spoilers from this camp - but as I have now seen it (!!!), I did want to do a post about the experience of sitting down to watch the very first movie made because I wrote something down.

In a nutshell, it was pretty fucking awesome. 

Truthfully, it was a little weird at first, I felt kinda like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News: "I say it here, it comes out there. Huh." When lines I remember writing and tweaking and ditching then resurrecting and tweaking some more came mellifluously spilling from the talented lips of the cast, my stomach flipped a little bit. Certain scenes, certain silent moments, they gave me chills that had nothing to do with the (incredibly frightening) ambiance. 

I've been writing a very long time, since I was 11, and until now, any characters I've created have existed solely in my imagination. To have some of them walking around on my TV was surreal to say the least, and my wife was required to punch me gently on the arm every quarter hour to ensure it was real; she became less gentle as the film went on, as she's not one for being scared. 

The actors - Bill Oberst Jr., Courtney Abbiati, Nicholas Harsin, Jenna Stone, Carey Van Dyke, Gerald Webb, Sonny King - did things with the roles I never could have written, things that transformed ideas into people and brought dimension to what had been a scary story, now just plain scary.

Composer Chris Ridenhour's score was spot-on - chilling, ferocious, chaotic, mind-bending. It augmented every scene, heightened every scare, and became very much an alive thing, another menacing character all its own. 

I could go on and on; for me, an admittedly biased viewer, everything about the film - the camera work, the lighting, the make-up, the casting, the HOUSE - was brilliant. But that's how I'm supposed to see it, right? That's how it's supposed to feel, how you imagine it feels when you daydream about it: you're write a script, some incredibly talented people take it and turn it into something amazing you can be proud to be a part of. 

And I am proud. I really really really am. Director Shane Van Dyke has made a great movie, a horror film with classical sensibilities and modern, innovative scare tactics. It's intimate and quiet one moment, cacophonous and violating the next, a terrifying whirlwind of cinema. I'm honored to have contributed.

And as for The Asylum itself...I'm just very grateful for the opportunity - ridiculously, massively grateful - and hope everyone is as happy with the film as I am, though I'm pretty damn happy, so that's a high bar.

Sure, I'm gushing a little bit, or a lot, but I wrote a movie because of all these wonderful people, and to me, that's a dream come true, so I've earned being eternally grateful and (perhaps childishly) emotive. I realize that I'm probably more lucky than I am talented - though I am quite talented; ask my wife, my mother, my 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Bradford or my bartenders, Glenn & Chots - and I know that my contribution is but a cog in the machine of this film, I just wanted a chance to say how happy I am to have been along for some of the ride.

So, to wrap it up, there's a really awesome horror film soon to be on DVD - Shane Van Dyke directed it, Alex Yellen shot it, Shannon Benna made it all 3D, Christopher Ray & Randy Carter assisted direction, Bill Oberst Jr, Courtney Abbiati, Nicholas Harsin, Jenna Stone, Gerald Webb, Carey Van Dyke & Sonny King gave it life, Chris Ridenhour made it scream, James Condelik cut it up, Alexa Roland, Spencer Brennan, Amber Hamzeh & Valerie K. Garcia made the fear tangible, Devin Ward managed the crap out of unit production, so many other fine folks sweated for it and I got to write it, all under the eyes and wings of B-movie royalty, the fine folks at The Asylum, specifically Mr.'s Rimawi, Latt & Bales and Ms. Brown - A Haunting in Salem, October 4th on DVD and Blu Ray, in 3D if you got the equipment.

Highest recommendation. Naturally.


  1. Okay, I've pre-ordered the Blu-ray, and I'm going to do a commentary for it as soon as I get it and post it the following Monday (at I do Asylum commentaries sight-unseen, so you'll be able to hear the first impressions and crazy ramblings of a guy who loves movies and enjoys Asylum lunacy. Here's hoping it's everything you say it is!

  2. Like most actors I know, I can't stand to watch my own performances, but you have almost convinced me to make an exception when A HAUNTING IN SALEM comes out. Congratulations on getting your script produced and my fingers are crossed along with yours for a success. It was a pleasure to speak your words. I hope we give some kids some nightmares. :)

  3. Now that I've seen it, I'll say: hey, you've got every right to gush. Shane Van Dyke turned your screenplay into a great little frightener. And Bill did a great job! Congratulations!