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The Filmmaker Speaks... John Bowker PDF Print E-mail
Written by by John Bowker   
Jan 12, 2005 at 02:00 AM
Excerpts from the book in progress "The New Breed":

The two latest projects I have done have two very different styles of story and content. The latest, "Housebound", revolves around a young woman named Heidi who has agoraphobia (which is the fear of leaving the house). She has it so severe that if she even attempts to leave, she becomes very ill and passes out. Her younger sister, Nancy, is forced to constantly take care of her, which causes a serious bone of contention because Nancy feels that she has no life because of this. They have a friend, Terry, who has fallen in love with Heidi and is willing to do anything to win her affection. He goes out into the wilderness and cuts down a tree in summer so they can have a "Christmas in July" party because their December celebration didn't go so well. But, what they don't know is something is hibernating in that tree. Something evil and deadly that wakes up and causes havoc in the small town and then comes after Heidi and her sister. They could easily run for safety, only one problem… Heidi can't leave the house and refuses to even try. So, it's a showdown in the house. And what's the deal with the two mysterious men in black?

The idea for "Housebound" actually came to me many years ago while reading a newspaper article. It was about a family that brought a tree into their house for Christmas and it was infested with moths. I thought to myself, "Man, what if it was something really dangerous and for some reason they couldn't get out of the house?" That's when the idea was born. When I was approached by Tim Ritter to do a project for Ron Bonk, this jumped into my head and got very excited about it very quickly. I even had Mr. Ritter shoot the opening for the movie out in Kentucky during the winter. I wanted to see snow in the opening for some reason.

  "Housebound" was shot over ten days during the month of June. It was an all inclusive shoot. We shot most of it out in Roseburg, Oregon in the house of the lead actresses (Kylene Wetherell). And not only did she act in it, let us film there, but she also catered it! That was the best we had ever eaten out on location. It seems like everyone had multiple duties on the set.

My Director of Photography, Joe Sherlock, also acted in it, ran lights, did the make up and gore effects. My Associate Producer M. Edward Hegg also acted in it, supplied sound and boom equipment. We also had some pretty cool CGI effects done by Benjamin Cooper from Thunderhead Entertainment which were very time consuming.

The cast I was working with was great. I had worked with several of them before, so we were all comfortable with each other. I brought in some new people and it wasn't too long before we all got into the swing of things. There were no problems on the set and each day we came in on or under the shooting schedule, which made everyone happy. The only real tension-filled shoot was during the night (there was a lot of nighttime shooting, starting in the afternoon and going until the sun came up) and we were shooting out at a barn on the property. We had to dredge around in sheep poop and "sticker" plants which didn't cut into the fun, but we got some of the best shots that night.

We shot it on Hi8, which I have found out, if you have the right person behind the camera, it can look pretty cool. Mr. Hegg had also constructed a "Critter cam" for the shoot, which is like a reversed steady cam and it worked beautifully.

Tim Ritter also filmed some extra stuff for me. He was out tromping around in Kentucky again during the summer even tho there was a curfew in his town because the mosquito's were carrying the West Nile Virus. He put himself at risk to get those shots. It still amazes me to this day. That's dedication. Thank you Tim.

On post, while Benjamin Cooper was working on the CGI elements, I was putting together the movie. I had got half way through and put some major hours in when all of a sudden the sound was gone and all the clips were contaminated! It had appeared that the computer didn't like the last sound byte I put in there. So, I had to go all the way back and start over from scratch. Not too much fun! But, it went quicker the second time around. So, from the time we started filming to the time where the movie was fully complete, it was 5 months. Not too bad.

  Now for "The Seekers" is was a completely different story. The movie is a supernatural thriller about a guy who is down on his luck and happens to acquire a video tape from a mysterious woman. She promises that if he watches it, it will give him the knowledge and power to handle all the bad things that happen to him. Of course, nothing is that easy and by agreeing to the terms, he puts himself and his family in jeopardy. Of course, evil ensues. I had shot this movie in 2000 and at that point had never heard of the movie THE RING. But, that's the chances you take when you do these movies.

The shoot on this movie was much more stressful. Again, my Director of Photography Joe Sherlock was using Hi8 equipment and managed to make it look pretty sweet. I had cast Felicia Pandolfi (The Evilmaker, Abomination) as the lead evil female and she did a fantastic job. The movie was shot over a period of nine months - one weekend a month. We had all kinds of casting problems, location problems and timing problems. But, it all worked out in the end.

The most stressful part of the shoot would have to be the end of the movie. We had a location out in the middle of nowhere (a rice warehouse) and we only had it for one night, so we had to get everything shot. We started at 11:00 in the morning and went until 8:00 in the morning, so 21 hours straight. Up until that point the longest shoot I had ever done was 18 hours. I know it's only 3 more hours, but it makes a difference.

  Compounding that was it was in December and while we were filming, there were thunder storms, hail storms, wind, you name it. Plus, we were told that the place had a heater. Well, it did, in a little office in the corner and the rest of the place was freezing cold. And mind you, I had an actress chained to a wall (Shannon) in nothing but underwear. In the behind the scenes you can see her shaking between takes. That night we also had a major effect to do and that took up a pretty good chunk of time, but it looked cool. It all had to get shot and we did just that. I don't think I have ever been that tired before. But, we made it through and to this day, I am always picked on about that shoot, heh heh.

Post production on "The Seekers" went well. I'm very happy with how the two movies turned out. I'm happy with each movie in different ways and if I could go back and change anything, I wouldn't. They were the movies I wanted to make at the time and I'm proud of them.

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