Even before my parents were scaring the shit out of
me and my sisters when we were kids with movies like
CRITTERS (Keep in mind I was 6 at the time)
they were scaring us at bedtime by
telling us stories of a headless horseman that rode through Sleepy Hollow and
about dead brides who cross 'Texas Road' at night. (A local haunted
street) It was a rearing like this that not only helped foster my unhealthy
obsession for horror, but also helped create a love in me for folklore and legends.
It's because of this love for urban legends and folklore that I am incredibly excited for the upcoming indy flick ALBINO FARM. Co-written and co-directed by Sean McEwen and Joe Anderson, the film grew out of a local legend that these guys grew up with. I was able to talk with Sean McEwen who spoke very passionately to me about folklore in general and the story behind ALBINO FARM.
So Sean, tell me about ALBINO FARM
The film is based on a legend unique to Southwest Missouri and the Ozark Mountains. While there are variations of the legend, we took one and extrapolated on it to create an intensely, frightening and horrific story, reminiscent of horror fare from the 1970’s. It will absolutely contain elements geared toward the core audience, including extreme moments that have never been seen in a horror film before! This is a creature driven film!
Now I understand that this film is based on an urban legend from the area in which your actually filming ALBINO FARM. What can you tell me about that legend.
One of the compelling “qualities” of a legend is
that multiple versions or variations can exist and ALBINO FARM is no
exception. What each variation has in common, if it’s a good story, is an
inherent fear rooted in a cultural, sociological or psychological dynamic. Add
to that a universality that is relative to a time or place and you have the
makings for one hell of a narrative.
The story itself becomes a commentary for a place or
time, a window into our own cultural psyche. As outlandish as a legend may be,
they always seem to have a relatable fear threaded throughout. And the closer
they are to plausibility, the more frightening they become.
As far as the ALBINO FARM legend, there was a particular version that especially intrigued us. The story goes that an abandoned farm, tucked deep in the hills of the Ozark Mountains, hides a horrific and embarrassing past for the people of Southwest Missouri. In the latter part of the 19th century, the farm was believed to have been used as an interment camp filled with dozens of “misunderstood people”, all afflicted with various physical deformities and genetic disorders. At this time, a prevailing climate of religious idolatry fueled by isolationism and ignorance dominated Ozarkian backwoods culture. Believing that whatever they didn’t understand must be evil, these “damned souls”, as they were called, were rounded up and thrown away there. Ostracized, they were forced to live within the farm’s walls as pariahs of society, simply because they were “different”. Not until the outside world learned of this injustice was the camp finally shut down and the poor people freed. Again, we took that version and infused it with our own relative discoveries to create a terrifying mystery that unfolds throughout the film.
How did you first learn about this story?I first heard a version of the legend while attending school in Springfield Missouri at Missouri State University. It was one of those tales you hear about in the “pantheon” of collegiate and dorm room “lore” that begs to grab a couple of your suite mates, crack open a beer and run around the local woods trying to find it. Of course, we never did, but the woods and our imaginations inspired all sorts of strange and exciting experiences that we had to share with other students all adding to the legend and it’s story.
Is folklore and urban legends a common theme that you would like to continue to work in for future film projects?
I think a major element that separates ALBINO FARM from the majority of other genre fare is that it is based on something tangible. And by “tangible” I mean that you can literally travel to that area of the country (the Ozarks) ask around and through story and recollection see it take life via one of the greatest storytelling devices of all – oral tradition. As the lines of “true” and “perceived” history are blurred through this tradition, they spread roots and take on a weight of reality. The questions of, “is this real?” and “did this really happen?”, continually crop up. And while it can’t be 100% answered, even the remote possibility of its truth adds to its validity and makes it extremely frightening. So to answer your question, we would absolutely like to continue the exploration of legends and folklore, especially those that relate to the unique culture of Middle America and the south. There are just too many good stories to ignore!
Now what can you tell me about the ‘creatures’ from ALBINO FARM
One of the most important components for the production is the design and execution of the creatures. We all agreed that no matter what, they had to be a “home run”! There is a unique story behind “Albino Farm” that left the genesis of these creatures wide open to whatever our imaginations could come up with. It’s been an amazing and inspiring process to watch what we originally put down on the page, come to life right before our eyes in full “flesh and blood”! Award winning Creature F/X artist Jason Barnett and his team have truly blown us away! Jason has worked on some of Hollywood’s biggest films and is currently launching his own company “Industrial Monsters and Props” (www.eccentricmonument.com). It’s unbelievably exciting to see someone so talented and driven making a name for himself as he spearheads our project!What is your favorite urban legend or folklore story?
ALBINO FARM, of course! But I do have to say, that I have always been interested in legend and folklore. I still remember watching a TV special on Bigfoot when I was a kid and the impact the Patterson-Gimlin film had on me...you know, the grainy, 8mm footage of what was supposed to be an actual “Bigfoot” walking in the wilderness. Of course there are many critics with regard to the authenticity of the footage but there is something extremely disturbing because of its “realism”.
The poor quality of the footage and the distance between the camera and the subject allows the audience to “fill in” the proverbial blanks with your own imaginative reality. It’s extremely effective and impactful. And while the ALBINO FARM movie is in NO way shot documentary style, we will create a horrific palate for the audience to open their minds to as the mystery of the ALBINO FARM legend unfolds. Believe me, there’s a lot of applicable information we uncovered that will blow you away!
Anything else our readers might like to know about your cast and crew from ALBINO FARM?Our director of photography is the insanely talented Rene Jung. Rene currently owns and operates the production company Juri Film Entertainment (www.jurifilm.com). We’re also blessed to have Scott Rockenfield, award-winning drummer for the heavy metal band Queensryche as our composer (www.rockenfieldmusic.com). I can’t tell you how excited we are to infuse Scott’s musical talent with the terrifying story behind ALBINO FARM! Music Composition is one of the most important elements in a film. Early discussions with Scott have revealed some amazing ideas that not only support the story but will transport it to a whole other level!
Wow, ALBINO FARM sounds like it's really going to be great Sean. Thank you for your time and good luck!
Well there you have it folks, some horror from America's heartland. I mean the fact that this movie is based on a real story, and a real f**ked up story at that makes it all the more interesting, don't you think? Also I find it incredibly interesting that when ALBINO FARM is finished, directors Sean McEwen and Joe Anderson are planning to have a showing inside the cave complex where parts of the movie were actually shot. (Fantastic Caverns is located just outside of Springfield, Missouri) So make sure to check back here at AITH for more information on ALBINO FARM as it happens, including dates for the screenings at the caves!