Bloodwood Forest. Tucked in an isolated place in Redwood City, California, is a solitary cabin and a family who has from an early age learned to defend and protect what belongs to them. And visitors are not welcome…
Produced locally by John Newkirk and Kool Kat Entertainment in association with Red Key Productions, Bloodwood Forest is also a short horror/thriller film currently in post-production that will serve as a prequel/fundraiser for a full-length feature film.
“I love making movies that work on multiple levels,” said Louie Cowan, the Executive Producer of Red Key Productions. “So the challenge with Bloodwood Forest was to use the horror/thriller genre to tell a story that entertains and is scary and intense, but is also about how people who are determined to have their privacy react with intrusions into their life and a suffocating loss of their personal space or rights.”
“Make films here because creative people usually bloom where they are planted before making a leap to a bigger pond and it matters to create opportunities in the arts in your hometown.”
Both a family drama gone wrong and social commentary on the role of privacy, the full-length feature will react to current events surrounding the fracking debate and how it affects small rural towns.
“Basically, one of the characters, Jeremy, goes away to join the oil industry and twenty years later [when the full-length feature is set] he is in the fracking industry and the forest is primo land for it. So he sends people to find out who now owns the land, and they don’t return,” explained Cowan.
The genesis of Bloodwood Forest came from Cowan’s native Cape Town, South Africa, where he met up on vacation with Walter Wessels, a writer who had drafted a screenplay. “The first draft needed some better story structure, but there were interesting characters at play in it and it had a rawness to the emotions that played out in the story that I was immediately attracted to.”
As Cowan, who has previously written, directed, produced, and acted in local films such as Safe House, Turkey Day, A Cold Blood, and the web series Two Doors Down, began to provide feedback on some of the material, he began to see possibilities for the story beyond “gory horror.”
“So we worked on several more drafts until we had crafted the version we have today, and I decided to direct it myself as I had connected deeply to the story.”
Although the story is set in Northern California, Bloodwood Forest was shot in and around Central Ohio, including a studio in Marysville and areas of Fredericktown. (Special effects will “layer in” more trees.) All-Ohio, mostly local, talent appears on camera as well as behind it. Paul Cunningham of Cool World Photography in Marysville serves as Director of Photography and Columbus-based Inline Productions as the editing team.
The excessively wet summer weather created numerous issues for filming, including the costs of reserving equipment on rain cancellation days and a rapid rewrite of two scenes. But now in post-production, Bloodwood Forest is scheduled to preview on October 31st at The Screens at The Continent, along with another local independent thriller Dark Fate, in which Cowan appears in front of the camera in its lead role.
“Our intention is also to show Bloodwood Forest at many film festivals around the world and to shop it around at the American Film Market in Los Angeles either this November or next year, depending on if all of our final touches of post-production are completed and press materials and the feature script is ready for prime time.”
Although Ted Strickland, while Ohio’s governor, passed tax incentives to encourage the filming of higher budget movies in Ohio, smaller independent films remain mostly a labor of love. But Cowan is optimistic about their value. Good stories often emerge through personal experience, and your hometown is the place where the film buzz begins.
“Make films here because creative people usually bloom where they are planted before making a leap to a bigger pond and it matters to create opportunities in the arts in your hometown,” advises Cowan, who is proud that this is his first film that has allowed him to compensate most of his cast and crew. “Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the obstacle of ‘good’—make what you can with what you have, until you have more to offer.”
Cowan, who moved to Columbus from Chicago as he was contemplating a leap from stage to screen, was initially hesitant about what he’d find in the local film scene, but was pleased to discover a talented and supportive community of artists.
“I love film people and what they can collaboratively achieve together excites me as an artist,” who Cowan, who has has learned a lot of his craft through trial and error. “In time you learn to make films in your own style and you end up with a tangible product that captures your vision forever… and that is pretty darn cool.” •
For more, visit facebook.com/BloodwoodForestMovie.