CINEPOLIS CHELSEA, NYC
Director: Vivienne Vaughn
2017 | 8 MIN
CRY IT OUT
Director: John Klein
2017 | 26 MIN
Director: Preston DeFrancis
Writers: Preston DeFrancis, Trysta A. Bissett
Producer: Rebecca Stone, Aaron Galligan-Stierle and David Hendleman
Starring: Marcienne Dwyer, Matt Dellapina, Eva Hamilton, John Odom, Chris Hill, Cameron Gordon, Sam Ashdown
The first time I heard about Blackout, the extreme haunted experience selling out night after night in Los Angeles and New York, I felt a little tingle at the back of my neck. That thrill of something forbidden, of something that was maybe just over an imaginary personal boundary. There wasn’t much information out there about it – mostly second- and third-hand whispers and conjecture. “You will be bound and gagged.” “They do really fucked-up shit.” “Their goal is to ruin you.”
What sort of person would volunteer – literally pay money to someone – and say, “I want you to ruin me!”
A lot of people, it turns out. Blackout gave way to The Great Horror Campout, The Tension Experience, and many others. The curiosity and attendance at these events seems to grow every October. It’s that time of year when legions of us horror fans are seeking something that will really scare us – frighten us the way movies did when we were kids, but fail to do now that we are adults and know we’re safe once the credits roll. Here was something that promised to truly scare us. And maybe even scar us.
That’s when inspiration struck me and my longtime screenwriting partner, Trysta. What if just a few people paid to re-live a “teens go camping” slasher movie, a la FRIDAY THE 13TH? We created the fictional event Slasher Sleepout: part escape room, part camping trip, part haunted house. But then, deep in the woods, cut off from technology… what if something went wrong?
That hook was enough to get us started. But what put us over the edge between “This is a cool idea” and “We have to make this movie” was when we created the character of Alex, our female protagonist. While she may appear to be the Virginal Heroine on the surface, just beneath is a deeply troubled woman trying her best to escape the mistakes of her past; a complicated, three-dimensional person, put in a situation far outside her comfort zone and forced to adapt. Maybe the thing that goes wrong at Slasher Sleepout is her.
While you are not likely to find many bigger FRIDAY THE 13TH fans than me, that paradigm was just a starting point. Our goal was to make something smarter, edgier, more character-based, but also an entertaining ride. We studied the structure of David Fincher’s THE GAME, the grounded style of Adam Wingard’s A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, and the personal, intimate work David Robert Mitchell did with his female protagonist in IT FOLLOWS.
Our small cast and crew descended upon Muskegon, Michigan for 15 grueling days of shooting, deep in the woods and on the shores of Lake Michigan. With us was my longtime creative producing partner, Aaron; my now-wife and our producer, Becca; executive producer, David; Marcienne, who bravely took on the challenge of playing Alex, both on land and underwater; a cast assembled from Los Angeles, New York, and local Michigan actors; and our director of photography, Jesse. We committed our vision to celluloid (er, digital), which was further brought to life in Post by our sound designer Josh and the music of our composer Holly.
What began four years ago as a tingle in the back of my neck is now a feature film for you to enjoy. If we’ve done our jobs, you’ll know at the end why we had to call it RUIN ME.
DIRECTOR PRESTON DeFRANCIS
Preston DeFrancis is a screenwriter, an award-winning director, and an educator. Preston came to Los Angeles via his hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia. He began his career in development at HBO/Cinemax, where he contributed to dozens of projects, including the THE KNICK from director Steven Soderbergh and OUTCAST from Robert Kirkman. He then worked as a writer on Cinemax’s acclaimed period drama QUARRY and as script coordinator on MANHUNT: UNABOMBER, a new drama premiering on the Discovery Channel in August 2017.
He and his longtime screenwriting partner, Trysta A. Bissett, have collaborated on numerous screenplays and television shows, including: A TEACHER’S OBSESSION, a feature-length thriller produced by Mar Vista Entertainment that aired on Lifetime; and RUIN ME, which is also Preston’s feature directorial debut. They are currently writing AFTER THE SUMMER, a supernatural thriller they plan to produce in 2018.
Preston’s University of Southern California thesis film, THE BIG PRODUCTION, won a Student Emmy for Best Comedy, was selected to screen at the DGA in a program of USC’s best six films of its year, and has played at film festivals worldwide.
Preston also enjoys working with the next generation of film artists. He has taught courses at USC and Relativity School in cinematic sound and screenwriting. While at HBO, he won the Richard D. Parsons Award for his work with the Young Storytellers Foundation, helping underserved youth find the power of their voices through screenwriting.