Blood Bank: “I Am The Doorway”

Indie filmmakers take inspiration from many places. It can come from a song, a personal experience, or even a piece of literature. Today’s Blood Bank takes a look at an upcoming project whose source material comes from the best in horror and scares. Simon Pearce from the UK is taking one of the strangest and most visceral Stephen King stories and adapting it for the screen – the science fiction horror I Am The Doorway

I Am The Doorway tells the following story:

After a journey to investigate desolate Pluto, astronaut Arthur returns home a shattered man.  He sees eyes forcing their way through the skin of his hands, eyes that distort his friends and the landscape itself into monstrous visions.  Believing himself the doorway to alien invasion and gruesome murder, he must take desperate action.

Adapted for the screen by Jeffrey StackhouseRichard A. Becker, and Wendy Lashbrook. Together they are a multi-award winning screenwriting team based out of the United States.  Direct Simon Pearce will be putting the script to screen in the vein of Dario Argento and David Cronenberg. He wants to take an intense visual style using all practical effects to create frightening story.

Since the age of 13 Simon Pearce has been telling stories from behind a camera. Recently he has branched into the science fiction realm with his web series Horizon Pearce released his feature length film last year, Judas Ghost. In the process of making that feature he grabbed a team that had the talent to take a small budget and turn it into a large world. Producer Wolfram Parge helped the 2015 horror have an incredible successful festival run with four total awards; Best Film, Best Director, and two Best Actor awards.

The legendary and incredibly talented director of photography Phil Méheux will be lending his eye to I Am The DoorwayPhil has quite the resume ranging from The Omen III, to The Mask of Zorrorall the way to one of the best shot James Bond films Casino Royale

We Are Indie Horror spoke with the incredible young talent, Simon Pearce and asked to tell us more about the upcoming project and a bit more about Simon’s past.

WAIH: What elements are you using to create the “brutal and devasting horror” advertised in your pitch?

SP: Well a lot of this of course comes from King’s original story, an invasion of the body must be one of the most brutal horrors you can imagine, but it’s an invasion of the mind too. We follow a very tortured, isolated central character under-going a transformation they can’t control, escape, or seemingly seek any help or solace from. The three writers Jeffrey, Richard, and Wendy have done a great job adapting this for the screen – it’s very visual even on the page, and it’s also framed around what’s essentially a tender love story, which adds another layer to it and makes it that little more tragic. Beauty against horror is a constant theme on this project, and it’s reflected in our choice of location.

We’ll be using a combination of cinematography and practical FX to translate this to the screen. It’s why I was so excited to get Illusion Industries on board to do our special effects, as I think there’s a certain feeling you get from an effect you can see is practical vs. CGI. We will be using some computer graphics, but I think an audience is very savvy to things like that nowadays and recognise when it’s all digital. Classic body horror movies like The Thing and The Fly that use a lot of prosthetics have a feel to them you don’t get so much in modern horror cinema – it’s a bit like shooting on film vs. shooting on digital, which has a much cleaner, more polished look.

WAIH: With the experience you have what is the constant challenge that always appears when creating a short or feature?
SP: I think with any film, no matter the budget, time and money are two things you never seem to have enough of! I think Robert Zemeckis once said the problems you get on a big feature are the same as those on a small student film, there’s just more money involved!

With something like this, just from a budget point of view, it’s a little harder because the potential for return on a short is much lower, it’s something you make for experience, exposure, and for the love of it. So that can mean it’s harder to get off the ground and find support for, and certainly this is the biggest short I’ve ever attempted, but at the end of the day your goal is simply to tell a story, using whatever tools you have available. As long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you can find a way. Myself and the team involved have had a lot of experience working on indie or low-budget projects over the years, and what’s good about these is they force you to be creative and find ways to work around potentially limited resources – so we’re no strangers to that!
WAIH: How did you come about your crew?

SP: Most are from previous projects. My producer Wolfram and I met on my last feature, Judas Ghost we got on well and shared a love for horror, so have been looking for something new to do together. I had previously met Phil Meheux (our cinematographer) through a mutual friend on a number of occasions, though never had a chance to work with him. Frankly I also never thought I would! Wolf and I approached him with this project and amazingly he said yes! We’re very excited to have him on-board as obviously he is extremely experienced and knowledgeable. To be honest I’m a little nervous about directing him! Haha.

We have a co-producer, Robert Shulevitz, who I’ve worked with on a number of occasions now. I first met him on the set of a British independent feature in 2008, and we have a really nice working relationship. He’s based in the US but, if I can, I involve him in anything I’m doing.

Finally, the writers I met again through Judas Ghost – our premiere festival screening was at Shriekfest in LA, which Jeffrey Stackhouse attended. He was a big fan of the film and approached me afterward about doing something together.

Most of the crew I work with now have come as a result of networking and getting involved with projects in my home-town of Bristol here in the UK since I was a teenager, and I feel very fortunate to have built up a strong network of people who are always keen to collaborate on new projects. I certainly couldn’t make things like this without them.

WAIH: What attracted you to this particular King story?

SP: When Jeffrey Stackhouse contacted me about doing it he actually already had the rights to this particular story. I must admit I wasn’t actually familiar with it but I went straight out and bought a copy of Night Shift so I could read it. Straight away it felt quite different to horrors I’d seen/read before, there was a lot of visual scope and the way Jeffrey, Richard and Wendy have interpreted it for their script is really interesting. It’s quite true to King’s version, but they’ve also added some of their own themes and really expanded on some subtler layers to the story. Crucially for me too, it is a huge tonal shift from my first horror Judas Ghost, that gave me a taste for the genre, but I wanted my next one to feel very different. This certainly is that!

WAIH: Any words of advice for up and coming indie artists?

SP: Just keep doing it and don’t be discouraged! What’s great about film-making these days is there’s so much more available to you at home – cheaper cameras and editing software, complicated FX work you can do on your laptop! Go out and make things, try stuff out, get it wrong, work out why – it really is the best way to learn. A lot of the people I work with now and connections I made I can trace back to some of these tiny shorts I made when I was younger. And keep furthering your own learning! Watch tutorials, blogs, read books and magazines on lighting, directing, whatever it is you’re into. Don’t be afraid to up the ante a little each time too, challenge yourself – whether it’s working with new actors, a different camera, or going through the process of phoning and hiring a particular location…..

Finally don’t run before you can walk too – one thing about all this stuff being so accessible now is that I think people can sometimes get carried away and assume they can just jump to doing a feature say, or make something which is very VFX heavy… Work your way up. Get the basics mastered and then when you are faced with a bigger project you’ll be all set.

Currently I Am The Doorway is on Indiegogo and on pace for a successful campaign. If you have the money to spare, they are offering one of the prosthetic hands with the alien eyes in it from Illusion Industries. Head on over to the Indiegogo and check out all the greatness that will become Simon Pearce‘s I Am The DoorwayThis is We Are Indie Horror‘s Blood Bank Where Every Drop Counts!