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Dead House began for me a little differently than other projects I have worked on. Instead of starting with an idea for a story, it began with a location. For years I would commute to work on a bus in Toronto and every morning and night I would pass this massive old house on the corner of Pape and Riverdale, seemingly abandoned, or at least left unoccupied. Every time I passed the property I thought it would be a fantastic location to set a film. However, over the years I never really thought too much into it. I was writing projects I wanted to develop but I hadn’t really realized that horror was what I wanted to do next. So the house just remained an interesting thing I passed on the bus.

One day a friend of mine sent me a link to an article featuring the house. The owners of the house had listed it for sale…for $1. Obviously this was some sort of publicity stunt to see what kind of offers they would get, but it shook me. I panicked. I thought in no time a developer would buy the place, level it and put in a condo and I’d miss my chance.

That day I reached out to the owners via email with a simple question: ‘Would they be willing to let me shoot in it’. They were very accommodating and agreed, but the only window they had was in 1 month as the feature film IT (2017) would be coming in and using the location indefinitely. I worked out a deal and on the spot committed to shooting over the course of 3 days roughly 4 weeks from then. And thats when the real panic started. I had a location, sure, but I didn’t have a story, a crew, a budget or any clue what the hell I would do. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had less than 30 days to figure that all out.

I quickly realized that I wanted the house itself to play a major role in the film, be a character itself. I didn’t want to get too consumed by developing a distracting mythology. I wanted a straightforward film with a very obvious objective for the protagonist(s). Almost immediately I realized that I could accomplish this by making it an ‘escape’ film. The charcters want to get out, and the house won’t let them. By focusing the story on simply escaping I could spend my time building tension leading into a number of ‘scares’ instead of trying to explain a complicated story with too much exposition. I could hint at a larger world with subtle hints and clues but keep the film small and honest. I had a very simple backstory for the main character that would feed into his breakdown as he is pulled deeper into the house and the rest was essentially a collection of vignettes that would unfold one after the other leading into the climax. The film was very ambitious but I am ecstatic with what we ended up with. People who have see it in early screenings have said ‘I want to see more!’. And if that isn’t the goal of any filmmaker, to leave an audience wanting more, then I don’t know what is. And guess what…I want to show more!

- Travis Laidlaw

Travis Laidlaw

Travis Laidlaw

Writer, Director, Editor, Sound Design

Travis is an award winning filmmaker, editor and vfx artist. He has worked for many years in the television and film industry as a motion designer and vfx artist. He has worked on such channels as Space, MuchMusic, MTV, Comedy, HBO and Comedy to name a few. He has edited and done vfx for a number of music videos by some of Canadas top talent including Sam Roberts Band, Arkells, The Darcys, Lights and Dragonette. Aside from pushing pixels Travis is an accomplished writer and director in the film industry. He has won a number of Best Music Video awards for his work on the time travel themed ‘When the Time is Right’ by Such Small Creatures. His short film Dead House premiered at the 2017 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, a prominent genre festivals on the circuit.

Justin J Chambers

Justin J Chambers

Producer, Director of Photography

Justin J Chambers is an award-winning Cinematographer and Producer. With over 50 projects to his name ranging from commercials and music videos, to short films and features. Justin has shot for a number of large brands including Bell, Telus and Samsung as well as some well-known figures in the music world, such as Sam Roberts Band, The Darcys and Leaving Thomas. In 2016 He shot the Gordon Pinsent written short film Martin's Hagge, which has garnered numerous film festival wins and a potential television series. In 2012 Justin founded his own independent production company Ethereum Films, which affords him the ability to produce most of the projects in which he shoots. This dual role has proven to come naturally to him as its fostered by his desire and passion for being behind the camera.

Ben Worley

Ben Worley

Composer

Ben Worley is a Film Composer / Music Producer from Nashville TN (Living/Working in Los Angeles CA). His experience speaks for itself. I mean not literally. That's impossible. But it is an impressive client list for a 25 year old. Clients like Bethesda, Adobe, LifeWay, Buzzfeed, Coke-a-Cola, Red Giant, and Triune Films all talk about how amazing Ben is. You’d probably know his work best from Red Giant Shorts like Plot Device, TEMPO, Spy vs Guy, Go Bag, etc… did you miss the part where he worked for Bethesda? It was Wolfenstein II. He did music for that.
“I can watch any film and tell you whether or not it has music in it.” - Ben Worley

Kat Crisp

Kat Crisp

Makeup Artist

Kat began her make-up career in 2009 in Toronto, Ontario after studying at CMU College of Make-Up Art and Design. Working predominantly in the film and television industry, she has keyed five films that have gone on to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The most recent being Molly McGlynn’s Mary Goes Round. Kat has worked with many celebrities including Sophie Turner, Laura Vandervoort, Richard Dreyfuss, Darryl Hannah, Eliza Dushku, Marina Sirtis, Rose McGowan, and many others. She also works frequently with the brand Make Up For Ever and is now a guest instructor at her alma mater, CMU College, teaching the makeup for film & television course. Previously, Kat studied at York University, completing an undergraduate degree in psychology before finding her way back to the arts. Kat is currently shooting Jouri Smit’s Heavy, as makeup department head, starring Daniel Zovatto (Don’t Breath) and Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones).

Virgil Howarth

Virgil Howarth

Lead, DAVID

Virgil Howarth is an alumnus of the Ray Wickens School of Drama. He studied directly with Ray and famous RADA grad Barry Morse. He has also studied with Stephanie Jones Neighborhood Playhouse Theatre School in NY and the great Frank McAnulty of Second City. You may recognise Virgil from any of the 30 or so television shows he been featured in. This summer you can catch Virgil in the horror thriller comedy “BloodSlinger” as it takes theatres by storm this July. Otherwise you can find Virgil touring across North America as the “Old New Dad” in “Grumpy Old Men” comedy tour.

Redd Ochoa

Redd Ochoa

Lead, KARL

Redd Ochoa studied at The American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City. Upon his graduation, he appeared in several Off Broadway productions in New York, including Othello, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Glengarry Glen Ross, King Lear, and American Buffalo, to name a few. He also made several tv appearances in Law & Order SVU, New York Undercover, Loving, and All My Children. Some of his film credits were Dog’s Eye View, Hoodlum, Vibrations, and Shirli Mirli by Academy Award winning director Vladimir Menhov. Redd decided to take a break from acting and went back to school to study filmmaking. He attended New York University, Tisch School of The Arts where he received his BFA in Film Studies. He went on to direct several film productions soon thereafter, which included Long Story Short with Rob Mcellheny (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Michael Williams (The Blair Witch Project), Feed Me, and Baliw (Crazy), which premiered at The World Film Festival in Montreal. One of his recent projects was a documentary with the U.S. Military called One Quiet Success, that debuted at The White House. Redd still directs and writes for several film projects but has also returned into acting. His most recent projects are principal roles in Designated Survivor, The Odd Squad, CBC’s Crawford, and several episodes in National Geographic’s Mayday.

 

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