Horror Factoid: In The Orphanage (2007) Laura's necklace, a St. Anthony medallion, makes a clever reference to her plight. In Catholic religion, St. Anthony is a doctor and patron saint of lost items.






« Interview with Kirksdale’s writer/director Ryan Spindell »

We're happy to have Ryan Spindell's Kirksdale as an officially accepted short to the OHFF this year, and even happier to be able to speak with him a bit about the direction and production of the film.

What challenges did you have as writer/director?

Ryan Spindell – Without a doubt, finding the location was the biggest challenge. Kirksdale actually started off as more of a quirky, comic book-style horror film about a timid young health inspector investigating a brooding mental asylum in the remote mountains. (Obviously a great concept to shoot in Florida, which barely even has any hills.) We searched the entire state for possible hospitals, and as our production date quickly approached, it seemed we were done for. Then, almost by accident, my assistant directors stumbled upon the plantation house, which was sitting empty a few hours away. I quickly re-wrote the script for the location, and we started shooting on schedule. Whew!


What was the casting process like?

RS-When you’re making a film in a rural area like Tallahassee, casting is almost always a major pain. Florida State has an amazing theatre program with a fantastic pool of talented actors to choose from, but as you can imagine, the age range available is limited. I cast my two good friends, and super talented actors Josh Mikel and Jessica Mansfield to play the parts of Officer Pearl and Molly, but casting Dr. Eckert turned out to be near impossible. Again, at the last minute, which seems to be a re-occurring theme, we found Greg Thompson, a talented actor out of Atlanta. Not only did Greg agree to do the film for free, but he did it while also shooting another film in south Florida and was almost constantly driving through the night to be on set in both places. He was amazing and we couldn’t have made the film without him.


What issues did you have shooting a period piece?

RS- Surprisingly, we had very few issues with the period aspect of the film. So many red flags go up when you tell someone that your doing a period piece, but the realities are, if you’re mindful of scope and pay close attention to details, anything is possible. Kirksdale was shot entirely in one location, so a majority of the work was done for us. We chose to set the film in the early 60’s so that we would be able to dress the sets with found furniture, and with the help of Tammie Noelle Merheb, an endlessly talented costume design student from the theatre program, we had a perfect storm.


Did you attend Florida State?

RS- Sure did. I actually received both my undergraduate degree in graphic design and my masters in film production from Florida State. Kirksdale was my graduate thesis project


What was the budget for Kirksdale?

RS- That’s tough to say. Out of pocket, the film cost somewhere in the area of $10,000, but that doesn’t take into account the equipment provided by the university and the entirely volunteer cast and crew. That’s one of the best things about making films in a place like Tallahassee. The community is so excited about the filmmaking process and willing to bend over backwards to help us get our films made. Everything from the locations to the vehicles to the set dressings were given to us free of charge. Definitely a far cry from Los Angeles


Does Florida State supply the budget for student films?

RS- One of the biggest benefits of being a part of such a highly selective and limited program is that the school does provide us with a limited amount of money for the films.


Does Florida State help with marketing of the films?

RS- Brenda Mills, the film school’s festival coordinator works tirelessly getting our films out to every possible outlet you can imagine. She’s a fantastic lady, and I’m pretty sure she’s a robot.


How long did it take to shoot this film?

RS- We shot Kirksdale in 12 days.


Did you experience any unique problems when shooting this film?

RS- Another huge challenge was using the vintage police cruiser, which was on loan from the local police station. After the first day of shooting, they decided that they didn’t want us driving the car, so we were forced to stage several shots in which crew members pushed the car into frame while a second car drove in the opposite direction to simulate dust kicking up.


What did you learn from this experience?

RS- I learned that so much of the filmmaking process is dealing with people. If you find like-minded collaborators and you show them patience and respect, the return is ten fold. I could have never made this film without my amazing cast and crew, and for that I will forever be grateful.


How many films have you directed?

RS- The first real film I ever directed was in film school. While there, I directed four short films and a spec commercial for the Coke-a-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Awards. I think you can find my Coke film on Youtube. It’s called The Return.


How old were you when you directed this film?

RS- Physically 27, mentally 13... Although I guess that’s pretty much standard for me.


Would you like to make this into a feature?

RS- I’m actually developing a feature version of Kirksdale with a production company in Los Angeles now. The major challenge with adapting a short into a feature is that you don’t want to tell the same story with filler. When we made the short we were always conscious of making something different and going against as many horror clichés as possible. The feature will be in the same vein, and I’m pretty excited about what we’ve come up with.


What projects are you working on currently?

RS- I actually just finished co-writing DORMANT, a comic/horror feature, with Joshua Mikel (the actor who played the police officer in Kirksdale.)  I grew up on early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi movies, and Dormant is my love letter to those guys and their groundbreaking films. I’m also putting the finishing touches on another feature called SHELL, which is an extremely dark and visceral coming-of-age horror film. Although the industry revolves around features, I still love short films and write them in my spare time. I actually have a collection of short horror scripts that I’m really proud of. If anyone out there is looking to make their fortune investing in short films, shoot me an email.




Reader Comments (1)

This is just amazing. We are all anxious to see more from this extremely talented artist.

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTeri Weisberger

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