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Shells chats with director and screenwriter of House of Dust, A.D. Calvo
Where did the idea of House of Dust come from?
Back in 2005, a friend handed me a NY Times article about the long forgotten cremains of Oregon's mentally ill. So the story was inspired by true events, if you can believe it. I started thinking about what would happen if someone inhaled those ashes. Would they become "crazy" too? Take on their illnesses? That's how the story was born, out of dust.
What makes House of Dust different than other Horror movies out there?
It's a character-driven ghost story with great performances and lots of classic scares, it's not just filled with blood and gore. There are lots of ghosts, lots of jumps, and hair raising atmosphere. It's also about the engagement of seeing characters transform and take on the debilitating illnesses of these former mental patients...the madness of it all. Remember the way Jack Nicholson's character arcs in The Shining? That kind of thing happens to a few of the characters in House of Dust. There's also a serial killer running around in there somewhere.
What many people don't know is it takes time to make a movie and the stuff behind the scenes they don't know about. Did you experience any problems working to get House of Dust working?
House of Dust has been in the making for a few years...it's undergone numerous rewrites by myself and a major rewrite by two writers we brought on to amp up the thriller aspects, story structure, and overall pacing. The locations were well researched and they took a while to lock down. The State of Connecticut was very supportive and helped us gain access to a former psychiatric hospital. What better place to shoot this, right? Honestly, there's a band of folks that made this film possible. In the end, it's a co-production between Budderfly Entertainment, Goodnight Film (my production company) with Slater Brothers Entertainment, Monolith Pictures, and Kelli Lerner Casting. We're lucky to have a great team.
What are you hoping will be people's reaction when they see House of Dust?
I hope we made a ghost story people will remember. Something original in a sea of "been there done that" and gore porn. Not a big fan of that stuff.
When is House of Dust expected to be released?
Hope to have it released in late 2012.
What prompted you to start writing movies?
Not to sound corny but it was something I always wanted to do. As I approached forty I reevaluated and made some significant and difficult changes in my life. It hasn't been easy, and my family has made lots of sacrifices. I hope people will take a good hard look at House of Dust and realize I'm here to stay and I'm still growing as a director, with each and every film. I wasn't a Sundance baby, nothing came easy for me, that's for sure. But that's okay because that has made me tougher.
Do you find it easier to direct something that you have written or do you prefer someone else to direct?
This is the first screenplay that I had rewritten. My first two (The Other Side of the Tracks and The Melancholy Fantastic) I wrote on my own. With House of Dust I had more willingness to collaborate and deviate from the plan. In the end it's a business, and not everything has to be "art for art's sake." Flexibility is important and there's entertainment value to consider. I think that, as a director, I'm more willing to "let go" if it's not a piece that I'm too married to -- which is a healthier attitude for filmmaking. House of Dust is a film born out of that spirit, collaboration.
What advice would you give to a budding screenwriter?
Every year read all the Oscar-nominees for Best Screenwriting. That's my advice.
Where can people find out more about House of Dust and you?