Independent film company ventures into unknown with horror films

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Local independent film makers work on projects with area as backdrop.

Local independent film makers work on projects with area as backdrop.

A young woman’s vehicle breaks down on a desolate road. Her cell phone gets no reception in the remote woods, and suddenly she hears strange noises as her car begins to rock. It’s midnight. Something unknown grabs her by the ankles and drags her into the woods.

“She dies,” said Chad Taylor, producer, writer and director. “In life, everyone dies, and in my films, everyone dies.”

“The Unknown” has begun, and as Taylor recounts the scenes of the movie he’s making with his independent start-up film company, Taylor Productions, he leans forward and his voice intensifies.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I like suspense, like Alfred Hitchcock,” he says. “I have seen about every horror movie ever made. I like to leave it open, and not show the blood and gore, but the suspense. I really like a natural scream… I base all my story lines on legends and true events that have happened around here.”

Chad Taylor (far right), writer and producer, with crew.  (photo submitted).

Chad Taylor (far right), writer and producer, with crew. (photo submitted).

Taylor and his colleague, Jamesion Ward, have embarked on a brave new project, and they’re experiencing some suspense themselves as they juggle the multivariate demands of work life, family life and the movie making they enjoy.

“I’ve got a wife and five kids,” Taylor said. “I get home from work at 4 p.m., start working around 6 p.m., and wrap it up at 4 a.m. We do our shoots every weekend, sometimes in North Carolina and also in Pennsylvania.”

When they need locations, they sometimes post on Facebook, with the promise of offering location credits in the film. They also have planned to film at La Cocula in Columbus and at a bar in Asheville.

Ward arranges the photo shoots and helps coordinate the nine actors in “The Unknown.”  He enjoys the work, and his first role in any film was in “Witch Ann.”

“I laugh through horror movies,” Ward said. “I find them hilarious.”

Taylor Productions operates on a shoestring budget. They work with professional, semi-professional and amateur actors. One of their lead actors appeared in “Transformers II.”

“I fund it all myself, because I don’t like having to pay bills to other people or giving up control of my own creativity,” Taylor said.

His own children have portrayed ghost children in his current film, he said.

“It isn’t about resumes and acting experience,” he said. “If someone is new and wants to try out film acting, we will work with that.”

He has found a strong willingness to innovate in his cast and crew, he said, and they take responsible risks.

“Actors do their own stunts, and they love it,” Taylor said. “In “Witch Ann,” we set a guy on fire, and he loved it so much, he wanted to do it again. When it comes to safety with stunts or anything else, I am the biggest on it. We will practice scenes many times, and we use cables, harnesses and grounds. In one scene in “Witch Ann,” we had to jerk an actress up into a tree, and so we dressed a stunt dummy in the clothes and pulled cables to make it look right.”

Neither Taylor nor Ward expressed any interest in fame.

“I want to bring publicity to this area and help build it up,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot of history here, and so many stories would make good movies. I produce, direct, write and film, and if anybody has a good story to be told, we will help develop and film it.”

Taylor also has less time-consuming projects, including filming DVDs for birthday parties and weddings. He’s working on an anti-bullying short film, and a 30-minute Christmas DVD, too.

They hope to have a full-length feature horror film shot, edited and ready for distribution by next Halloween.

Taylor and Ward worked together on another independent Taylor production, “Witch Ann,” which had a five-theater distribution. That experience fueled their dreams, and Taylor has outlines for more than a dozen movies, short films and projects he’d like to undertake.

“I want to do a zombie movie with farmland and old cabins, one that looks at that alligator drug that makes skin crystallize into alligator skin and start falling off,” he said. “I want to show how zombies really were made by mankind.”

The two men have tattoos of the special symbol for their new movie, and they’ve placed the tattoos discreetly on their necks. Taylor also has a large tattoo on his arm with the symbol and the words “Ignotum tenebris est non visibilis um luce,” which he says means that the unknown darkness is invisible with light.

“I’d like to have the whole cast get these tattoos,” he said. “It’s a commitment to this project. It’s a commitment to getting it done.”