If there’s one thing that I learned via making The Shelter is that a film stays with you for a long time when you’re the director and head producer on it. The flick was released at the end of 2016 and here I am still talking about it!
My directorial debut starring Michael Pare which the L.A. TIMES called “remarkably ambitious” and “a concise genre piece that doubles as a heavily metaphorical character sketch”, had previously been released on DVD and VOD in the United States, and was also sold in various countries around the world.
Since The Shelter’s domestic release, we’ve done all that we could in terms of the classic route of finding distribution internationally. And although we did have some success (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden South East Asia, Canada) we’ve come to the conclusion that the best move to make at this final stage is to end on this different avenue.
I’m happy that everybody will finally be able to watch this unique, odd and very personal film. And for me, this marks the end of my 4 years journey with this picture. So there’s something to celebrate and be proud of right there! Thanks to all who have supported me and the film over the years!
It has been a very rewarding experience, one that changed who I am and that re-sparked and enriched by spirituality. I’m a better man and filmmaker for it and will bring all of that into my next film HERETIC. Peace and God bless! John
“Can almost be labeled as a faith-based thriller. But with the subjects of infidelity, alcoholism, suicide coupled with open sex scenes, violence, and touches of horror, this unusual mix with its strength in faith delivers a taboo of sorts to a non-secular audience. ” – The Movie Guys
With Christmas upon us, and this being most likely my last The Shelter related piece on this Blog (locking some outstanding territories aside, the adventure is pretty much done), I figured this was an ideal time to address the Christianity inspired elements of the picture.
Much of the self-loathing, anger and selfishness that I had in my 20’s tagged with my Catholic upbringing and my rocky relationship with it back then went into the writing of The Shelter. That is why it is such a personal film for me. Although I have since conquered those demons and I am now in a place of peace, I re-visited that time frame to pen the film.
Now the movie was marketed to the horror crowd for the most part upon its release, with good reasons. It’s a bleak ride and the genre elements are there, and yes, many have gotten something out of it no matter their beliefs (except for the random person who felt preached to – you do a film about demons, all good, you explore the flip side – you’re preaching – go figure).
But I do think that people of Faith should see it too, even those who don’t normally like genre films (it’s now free on Amazon Prime) hence the main reason that I am writing this blog entry. Granted the movie is rough in places and it’s definitely not a “family movie” (don’t show the kids), but I think if you’re Christian, you should give it a try as its themes and its message should resonate with you. To give you an idea The Shelter is akin to Book of Job from the Old Testament. That was one parallel that I was going for (you can learn more background on the ins and outs of the film via the Audio Commentary on the DVD).
In closing, I’ve recently come the realization that The Shelter was basically my “message in a bottle” to the world. My intent was to move, stimulate and make the viewer think and I was so blessed to have Michael Pare in the lead to help me convey that. To be honest, the most rewarding reaction that came out of making the film has been the people that reached out to me after seeing it in person or online to let me know how it moved them or urged them to look at themselves, look at their Faith or at their past mistakes. It touched me that the film touched others. All I needed.
Here are some quotes from some of The Shelter reviews that tapped into the Christianity laced meat of the film. Click the links to read the reviews! And if you do wind up seeing it because of this Blog entry, I truly hope that it stirs you one way or another. And if you hate it, that is okay too. Merry Christmas!
“Like Book of Job from the bible, Thomas is tested through supernatural signs that lead him to an emotional place in his heart he’s learnt to hide from. It’s an uncomfortable watch as real become unreal, but because it’s what Thomas desires he goes with the flow. And then the faucet of all that he wanted is turned off. ” – Britflick
“The Shelter swirls Christianity and Silent Hill-levels of guilt to torment its protagonist, and Fallon’s strong visual style combines with a very strong turn from Pare to good effect.” – Sci Fi Now
“The neon lights become the power of Christ and his need to beg forgiveness jostles with memories that aren’t allowed to fade.” – Starbust Magazine
“The film’s religious undertones remain apparent but they never feel overly preachy and, surprisingly and cleverly, draw out whatever spirituality we believe in, making Fallon’s intentions feel relevant to us in our own particular way.” – Scream Horror Mag
“There are a lot of religious references, as well as dreamy sequences bathed in light, where we are not quite sure whether to believe what we are seeing, or if it is merely a product of Thomas’ mind.” – Movieramblings
“The beauty of Fallon’s cinematic Lament Configuration is that through extensive use of religious iconography and flashbacks that offer suggestions as to how Thomas found himself in this predicament, there are multiple conclusions that the viewer may come to, and with Fallon wisely refusing to offer his own explanation of the film’s meaning it enables the viewer to take their own unique experience with them.” – This is Horror
“Filled to the rafters with religious iconography; statues of Jesus Christ, copies of the Bible and crucifixes of ever schism, are littered everywhere you care to look. The talismans represent Thomas’ need forgiveness, but he’s a stubborn man.” – The Hollywood News
“Blending elements of spirituality, horror and redemption within the faith based storytelling, you see a very complete film in THE SHELTER.” – Tom Holland Terror Time.
“God’s not explicitly mentioned, but even a lapsed Catholic or staunch atheist will get the feeling going into the final act and after the credits roll that someone, not of this world, can and will put you out of your misery… if you’ve given up.” – Britflick
“The Shelter is Bad Lieutenant meets The Last Temptation of Christ” – Julien Dunand (Producer/We Blew It)
After its theatrical, VOD and DVD release, my directorial debut THE SHELTER, starring Michael Paré (Eddie and the Cruisers, Streets of Fire) is now be available (in the USA) on RedBox TODAY (February 7, 2017)!
I gotta say it; I’m really happy that The Shelter is getting a wider reach in North America via Redbox, with the main reason being (and I know this is gonna sound f-ing pretentious) that I had “something to say” with the film in terms of the human condition. Again, the most rewarding aspect of having made this movie thus far has been the people who have contacted me to let me know how after watching it they entered a state of self-reflection…
In related news; the film will be shopped at the upcoming EFM (European Film Market) in Berlin starting February 9. For distribution queries or to set up a meeting at said market, E-MAIL Uncork’d Entertainment HERE!
Am I now back from Los Angeles where we had THE SHELTER premiere (peep the QNA video below or here) and yes, that event and the film’s domestic release on VOD have definitely acted as a “victory point” for the film and for me personally. It’s finally out there after a two-year battle to get it done. Phew! On that, for me the fight is not over. Still got to sell the film foreign, still have to make my money back and want to broaden the film’s reach in terms of the type of audience that I think should see the movie, but more on that down the road.
A lot has come out of The Shelter’s release. I’ve never been interviewed this much in my life (Thanks Clint Morris for your hustle), the film got a slew of solid reviews (and yes the LA Times one was a highlight for me), The Academy of Motion Pictures (Oscar baby) put the script in their library, I’m starting to get known outside of the horror niche and personally the most rewarding thing of all is the folks that have expressed to me how much the film moved them or/and made them think. That was the point of that one, hence mission accomplished.
I want to take a moment and thank some of the key people behind the picture. Thank you to Producer Donny Broussard who came in early on the project, hustled with me through the hurdles and busted his ass to get me all that I needed to shoot this puppy. Couldn’t have done without you! Thank you Bobby Holbrook (and the Holbrook Multi Media team), who gave me all that he had during production and then stayed with me in the trenches during the baffling “technical-warfare” laced process that was Post Production. We went through some serious (and un-explainable) obstacles and one mammoth let down but Bobby fought with me till the bitter end.
Also a big thank you to Executive Producer and hombre Berge Garabedian for believing in the film and being my rock throughout this emotional roller coaster ride, always kicking me in the ass when I started to feel defeated. And of course a huge thanks to star Michael Pare who took a chance on a first time director and went all out for the movie. Every positive review in terms of his performance is MUCHO deserved. I couldn’t go on without thanking my pal Writer/Director/Author/Great cook Eric Red (who gave me solid tips during Pre and Post) and his wonderful wife Meredith Red. Both of them had my back throughout this journey and it was much esteemed. PS: Shout out to my amazing cast and crew! The crew was a well-oiled machine, my cast rose to the task, no way this would have happened with lesser talented people, specially taking into account the short production time we had. Pat yourselves on the back!
I’ve learned and changed a lot in the last 2 years. This undertaking acted as tough love Producer school, my persistence never got this tested before ever and I am proud to have pulled through, I loved every second of directing and am in love with the process, I grew spiritually and as a man; learning to forgive, to be humble, to not let the haters affect me, to react to obstacles in a rational fashion and to find the positive in the low blows instead of becoming cynical – cause yeah, this business will do that you, turn you into a bitter f*ck… if you let it, and I did for a while, but I have since evolved.
The Shelter’s release has acted as a first firm step on a new professional path, one that I am eager to explore and exceed in. New doors are opening, new film projects are shaping up and I am grateful for that. Thanks to all of you that have supported me and are still supporting me in my endeavors, I honestly could not have done it without you. Every positive e-mail, PM, tweet etc. fuels me to keep on going! Much love and God Bless! John
Producing: When it’s “your movie” and you’re responsible for everything, even other people’s mistakes that go down under your watch – it’s an all new ball game. I had co-produced before on other people’s movies, mostly pre-prod/prod stuff, but that was NOTHING compared to what I had to go through on this one. Once the shoot was done it was obstacle after obstacle after obstacle and to say I learned so much the hard way would be an understatement. As I type this, 2 years since we wrapped, I’m still going through hurdles when it comes to the bureaucratic nature of making a film (Note: hurdles have since been conquered). On that, even though I wasn’t smiling the countless times I got kicked in the face for the last two years, I can now safely say that I am happy all of these challenges went down as I will bring that knowledge and a stronger shield to my next picture. Every director should know the ins and outs of producing a film IMO – you got to understand the machine fully to operate it to its max! So although it put me through the ringer, almost broke me and tested my tolerance level like mad – the knowledge I got out of this experience was priceless. They didn’t teach me that shit in film school that’s for sure! And yes I have an all-new respect for the Producers of the world.
Change of reaction: One can be strong, but after taking hit after hit after hit, you start to lower you gloves and begin to react to curve balls in a bitter and discouraged fashion. Through making The Shelter, I had to learn to “roll with it”, to see the positive in the negative “like gaining knowledge by way of hardships” and to have faith that every misstep, every sucker punch was for a greater good that maybe I didn’t see at the time. The amount of Festivals that turned me down, people who I thought would back me up but didn’t, the two forward – ten steps back rinse and repeat routine – I was focusing on that drivel instead of: The Festivals that did take us on, the people that have been there with me through thick and thin or the progress (no matter how little) that was achieved. So I am grateful for that, as that change in “reaction” is now something that I try to apply in my everyday life. I’m not perfect at it just yet, I slip now and again, but I am now even more self aware, hence when I get hit, I make a conscious choice to try to NOT react in a negative way, to take it on the chin and to see the positive within the dire situation instead. Looking back, getting discouraged or bitter only made the battle harder than it already was – nothing was gained from reacting in that fashion. NOTHING. Lesson learned and applying it is still a work in progress. One thing is for sure, I am a much stronger and evened out person due to it.
Spirituality: I was raised Catholic for the bulk of my life – had to pray at school – all that jive. But my problem with organized religion has always been the evil that men did in its name (and in terms of Christianity, totally negating what Christ was all about in the process, but that’s another convo). Hence, none of it is black and white for me – it’s grey. THE SHELTER sent me on a new route though. Being that the film does sport Biblical inspired elements; I did lots of research on the subject matter. Through that, I became fascinated with the history behind it all; hence I started devouring books outside of the usual tomes, like the Hebrew Bible for example or the writings I could find by the “Church Fathers” (ancient Christian writers also known as the Apostolic Fathers). Today, when I travel (specially in Europe), I visit old churches and am completely fascinated as to the beauty before me and the history behind said locations. The many texts that I have since been introduced to coupled with the countless left field happenings that befell me throughout the writing and post production process has guided me a in a direction i.e. what works for me spiritually – my own path if you will. And it’s a trip to walk it! At the same time, I now have a new kind of hobby and I am having lots of fun researching and discovering.
And that’s pretty much it, what I have gained from all of this thus far. It’s been a rock and roll two years that’s for sure! Thanks for reading! John
Hola! As we strive to bring you some wonderful THE SHELTER news very soon (I know I’ve been saying that for a month now, but shit takes the time it takes i.e. much longer than anticipated); I felt like sharing with y’all one of the first pieces of feedback I got about the film, in the name of giving you an idea as to what you’re in for.
The thoughts come from French Producer/Director JULIEN DUNAND, whom I worked with on DEAD SHADOWS in 2012. The lad also produced/directed BIG JOHN (2006) and DU SANG SUR LA NEIGE (2013) and produced NWR (Nicolas Windig Refn).
“I finished watching The Shelter. Not only do I think it’s a good movie but it might even be a great one. I probably need to see it again in a few months just to be sure. All I knew before watching it was that it was some kind of a haunted house flick. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Shelter is a reflection about Christianity and redemption. It stands on its own as an independent film. I was taken completely by surprise. I never thought it would be what it was. As a Christian catholic, I completely got what you were trying to say. The film has real power, and I don’t mean the images. Yes the shots and frames are quality, and the overall work on visuals is very good. So is the excellent sound design. But I never paid too much attention to technique. Because visuals to me are concrete, almost mathematics. If you have decent money and a good crew, it’s not that complicated to have good camera work. I’m not saying it’s easy –just that it’s controllable. On the other hand what isn’t, is soul. The will to express something.
One thing I’ve learned in this business over the past 10 years is that it’s very easy to make a bad movie. And it’s even easier to make an average one. Directing is having something to say. I see plenty of brilliantly shot movies all the time, but they’re dull and useless because they have nothing to say. They are soulless. So they just exist out there in the middle of thousands of other ones and no one will ever remember them in 6 months. So what’s the point of making them? Making a first film can be so hard that if you don’t have anything to say, don’t do it. It’s just not worth it.
A true director is someone who has his own eye (le regard in French). And having an own eye means having soul, putting your heart and guts on screen. Expressing something. In the end it’s all that matters. It’s all that counts. It’s all that’s remembered. And I felt you did that.
It is also obvious to me that religion at some point played an important part in your life. All these images are very reminiscent to me of the early works of Martin Scorsese, from Means Streets right up to Cape Fear, but also of Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant (Thomas’ character has a direct link with Harvey Keitel’s character). Who gets to ask for redemption? At what price? Under what conditions? The Shelter confronts these issues with power and force. It’s meaningful.
I tend to get emotional about all of this but the most important thing I want to say to you is this: You have something here. So what ever you do next, don’t fuck it up! Congratulations John!”
The fine folks at ICONS OF FRIGHT (thanks for the support guys, much appreciated) just took a look at THE SHELTER. You can read an excerpt below and check out the entire review HERE.
“THE SHELTER is most definitely the smart man’s horror film, putting more effort into giving its viewers a character study of a man, lost and broken and forced to face and overcome the past mistakes that caused his life to spiral out of control. It’s great to see Pare shine again, he really gives a powerful performance, one that is broken and jaded, yet damaged and full of pain in ways that we as a viewers seek to put together.”
And I was also interviewed by Punk Globe recently and didn’t plug it here yet.
Hence here is an excerpt!
“We had a fairly smooth shoot. But post-production proved to be very challenging. A lot of weird technical things kept happening, which slowed down the film’s progress considerably. It got to the point that we all started to think that we were messing with things that we’re not supposed to be messing with. I can almost write a book about the very strange things that happened around The Shelter; mostly during the writing and post-production stages.”
I have been hustling hard for this film (which I now affectionately call: “My Vietnam”) non stop for a bit now – on that, I am starting to see the light i.e. looks like the constant effort is starting to pay off. More news soon!
Hey guys and dolls! You can feast your retinas on a new clip from THE SHELTER below! I hope you enjoy it! A new review of the film just surfaced on SCREAM HORROR MAG as well. Here is an excerpt
“Whilst Fallon’s film will probably polarize most audiences, as it boldly goes where most films daren’t – relating a somewhat incongruent tale that does anything but spoon-feed viewers; in my book, that’s the epitome of the kind of films people need to be queuing up to catch instead of the spate of Hollywood horrors that don’t even try to get the audience’s grey matter muscles flexing.”
As for where the film is at. I’m presently hustling further Festival screenings, working on getting the film seen by more people (am expanding the audience I am targeting) while seeking worldwide distribution for the film. You can e-mail me HERE for inquiries!
Looking back at 2015, all I remember off hand are two things: 1- Greg Plitt died out of no where on January 17 of 2015 (a man who helped me get back on track via his site/videos years ago. His passing prompted me to go back to his site and once again he helped a lot this year) and my film THE SHELTER, which took over the bulk of my thoughts and efforts. The film resulted in some positive things like cool festival runs, positive reviews, meeting new people, making new contacts and new opportunities arising.
It also came with its fair share of hardships (that I will go into when all is said and done some day – I may write a book 🙂 ) and some trial by fire i.e. gaining further knowledge as to the current state of the film market through my mistakes. Shelter aside, I actually had to look back at my 2015 pictures to remind me of what else I did that year and yeah, I had yet another groovy year of doing what makes me happy: training, nature, my friends, traveling and challenging myself.
Top of my head here are some of my favorite personal moments of 2015!
In terms of negatives, I’m not one to dwell on those cause, well, what will that achieve? Nothing. I’ll just say that the odd energy around The Shelter gave me a run for my patience, maximum effort often led to maximum frustrations as opposed to results and knives stabbed in my back here and a severe “misjudgement of character on my part” there should be noted… nothing new at this point, people are people. Lastly, my 14 year old dog is on her way out (going deaf, blind and very old) it’s coming and I am bracing myself… such is life. 🙁
I feel very positive in terms of 2016 though (just got back from a stay in the wilderness – that always sets me right)! The Shelter will screen at a handful of Festivals and will lock distribution, am pumped to get my next film The Prize off the ground, I’m starting boxing again (after dealing with a stubborn tennis elbow in 2015 that got in my way, I finally healed it), I’ll be part of handful of exciting projects (as a writer and actor), already have some traveling on the horizon, mother nature is always in my plans and I will focus on awakening by creative side again, specially when it comes to writing for myself. Producing The Shelter in 2015 kind of numbed by creative juices, I won’t let that happen this year. That’s it in a nutshell! Welcome to 2016 people! I leave you with my 2016 National Anthem: