About a week ago, I was contacted by Chris Howard of BlueLantern Films about the upcoming horror movie, Beacon Point, directed by Eric Blue. I was intrigued after I did some quick Googling because this movie is going places. Beacon Point met its Kickstarter goal with time to spare and won the Indiewire Project of the Week. I was pretty excited to send my questions to Eric Blue and he kindly took the time to answer them.
Beacon Point is about a group of hikers on the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains. Things go from bad to worse when they realize that not only are they lost but they’re not alone. Here’s the trailer;
Scarina’s Vault: You’ve written, produced, and directed multiple shorts. Why did you make your feature-length picture a horror movie?
Eric Blue: Alien was the first horror movie I can remember seeing as a kid, and it scared the hell out of me. It really left an impact. I’ve always wanted to do a horror movie, and I got inspired and wrote Beacon Point. I really wanted to shoot a movie that would grab the audience, scare them, and be a fantastic journey. Horror seemed perfect. And yes, horror is a great genre for the indie filmmaker. There is a huge audience, they can be really entertaining, and you can effectively produce a quality movie on a smaller budget than say an action movie. All the pieces fit perfectly. I’m excited about how well it has all turned out.
SV: Based on the trailer and plot-summary, this looks like a movie that’s in the spirit of The Descent, The Blair Witch Project, and The Evil Dead. What sets Beacon Point apart?
EB: Those are all great movies. We put a lot of thought into how to make our story unique. One of the cool things about Beacon Point is that it breaks a lot of the clichés that many horror movies seem to embrace. When Traci Carroll and I wrote the story, we wanted to stray from the same tired story elements that seem to pop up so often. For example, our protagonist, or hero, is a woman. Alien was one of the first horror movies to do this, and even today, you don’t see female heroes that much in horror movies. Mostly in horror, women play the damsel in distress and the men typically are the heroes. We also really focused on building depth to our characters and an engaging story. Horror movies are notorious for shallow or cardboard characters. We really wanted the audience to care about the people in the story.
SV: Beacon Point was filmed in Georgia and is set on the Appalachian Trail. Did you base the story on any real Cherokee legends? Did you consult any members of the Cherokee Nation?
EB: I was really excited to base the story in The Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Trail. It’s so iconic, it was perfect. I was also very interested in the Cherokee culture. I think it’s fascinating, rich in tradition, stories, and legends. I haven’t seen very many horror movies that tap into these legends as a plot point and it seemed like a perfect backdrop for a movie. I did most of my research online or by reading books. We took a few trips up to Cherokee, North Carolina to scout locations and we talked to some wonderful people who are members of the Cherokee Nation. They were very friendly and shared some amazing stories. The legend touches on some of the beliefs and traditions of the Cherokee as well as how they were driven from their lands. I can’t say much more than that without giving away some key plot points.
SV: Your Kickstarter page says you want money for CGI effects. What did you do for practical effects? Do you have a preference to work with?
EB: I’m a big fan of practical effects in movies. We were very lucky to have Toby Sells do the practical effects and make-up effects for Beacon Point. Toby’s a real pro and has done work on The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries and Zombieland to name a few. Wait until you see what he did for us. We will be blending some CGI stuff in there too, which is going to look amazing. The production value in Beacon Point is very impressive. I can’t wait for you to see it.
SV: After your Kickstarter project is over, do you have a projected release date?
EB: We are hoping to have the movie completed around September 2014 and have it ready to enter into the Sundance Film Festival. The release date for the world won’t be until 2015 most likely. It really depends on when we sign our distribution deal.
SV: Your Kickstarter page says you were inspired by the inherent creepiness of camping. Do you have any specific stories?
EB: Actually yes, I do, but the story is incorporated into the movie so I can’t share it. Sorry!
SV: A lot of horror fans and creators I’ve spoken to have mentioned a moment when it clicked for them, when they realized they were horror fans. Do you have a similar moment?
EB: I’ve always liked well-made horror movies. I remember watching movies like Jaws and Halloween as a kid. They really had an impact on me. It’s part of why I became a filmmaker. I wanted to tell stories that entertained people and invoked an emotional response.
SV: What’s your favorite scary movie and why? Who do you look up to in the genre?
EB: I can’t just name one… I love so many scary movies. The Shining is a favorite. You’ll never think of a big hotel the same again. I loved Alien as I mentioned before. Psycho, though not necessarily considered a horror movie, scared the crap out of me. I like well-made movies that are entertaining, period. I admire any film maker that can pull me into the story and keep me engaged. Horror can be really good at this if done well.
SV: You’ve written, produced, and directed a lot of your own work. Do you prefer to wear so many hats? Please tell me about some of the benefits and drawbacks of playing so many roles.
EB: I really like to write and direct. That’s my passion. The other jobs I do because I have to since I’m an indie filmmaker. Honestly, I’d rather not wear a lot of hats. You can miss new ways of looking at things when you try to do everything yourself. I really like collaboration with other team members. I was lucky to have my core team, Scott Salamon, Matt Ackerman, my wife Karen, Jim McKinney and Monica Salamon, as part of the team to bring this movie to life. I couldn’t have done it without them. For me, collaboration is what makes filmmaking fun.
SV: What advice do you have for any aspiring filmmakers? What do you wish someone had told you when you started?
EB: To be a filmmaker, you have to really, really want to do it. It has to be an obsession. You have to be willing to hear “No” constantly, sacrifice all of your free time, work crazy hours, inspire people to help you, and never be willing to give up. I couldn’t imagine working this hard to do anything without truly loving it.
Beacon Point has really been a work in progress for over 12 years. Not this story, or screenplay per se, but the overall dream of writing and directing a feature film. It’s something I’ve been able to stay laser-focused on over the years, always working in some way to get closer to my goal. Whether it was short films, music videos, webisodes or just wacky videos, it’s all been pushing me towards my goal of directing my first feature. This is why I say it really has to be your dream, your obsession. It’s not an easy or quick process, at least for me it hasn’t been.
My advice is dedicate yourself to your dream. Work hard, stay focused and never give up. That’s the secret in my opinion.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I'm not good at writing intros for myself. I just like scary movies. Probably more than you and definitely more than your momma. I grew up in New Jersey which is probably why I'm so weird. The whole atmosphere in NJ is strange. I love kitty chins, "The Master and Margarita," and Twin Peaks.
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