Former talent agent turned international film Producer Asko Akopyan of Oscar Gold Productions, has just joined the HERETIC team as lead producer. The film is now slated to shoot entirely in Armenia come early 2019. It’s set to star Paul Sloan (Nation’s Fire, Vigilante Diaries) and Mark Lawson (One Life to Live).
Asko had this to say about the joining the project: “After speaking with the director John Fallon and hearing the passion and enthusiasm he had for Heretic, I read the script and realized that this is the perfect project for me to once again take back to my home country of Armenia and film it there in its entirety. I’m excited to help produce this thought provoking and powerful story.”
Man I’m happy! When it feel right, it feels right. Asko is a smart and driven Producer, a problem solver and I’m beyond elated to have somebody with his know-how with us. And it should be said that shooting in Armenia is a dream come true for this film. I was floored when I was shown all that the country has to offer in terms of locations. Let me put it this way: we won’t have to build any sets. All that we need is there – and authentic to boot.”
Logline: When two Templars are sent home after losing the second Crusade, they are forced to battle a slew of varied enemies, the pity-less elements and their own inner demons while trying to elude a mysterious assassin who is hunting them down.
HERETIC was written by Karim Cheriguene (Horsehead) and yours truly (American Muscle, The Shelter). Marc Natoli of Natoli Productions (The Proposal) is co producing alongside my company Bruise Productions and JoBlo Movie Productions.
“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)
Hey all! I will be at the Frontières Market in Montreal, Canada this year (under my Bruise Productions Inc. banner) and one of the projects that I will be pushing is HERETIC. You can feast your retinas on the promo poster (created by Alex Tuis) and synopsis below.
HERETIC was written by KARIM CHERIGUENE (Horsehead) and myself, is presently in development (i.e. we’re looking to secure the remaining of the funding either via private investment, pre-sales, or another producing entity joining us). The film will star the very talented PAUL SLOAN (I Am Wrath) and MARK LAWSON (One Life to Live), will be edited by MICHAEL NOURYEH (Drive, Batman V. Superman), JAVIER RUEDA (Un trabajo y una película) will DP, ELI DORSEY (The Last Witch Hunter) will handle the VFX and the film is slated to shoot in Barcelona, Spain come early 2018. Here is the synopsis:
“1149. William and Roland, two Templars, are on their way back home after losing the second Crusade. Both men are dealing with the weight of the war and of having failed God quite differently. Roland is repentant, attempting to correct his wrongs via good deeds and kindness, while William justifies his harshness by claiming that every hardship is a test and part of “God’s will”. As if the increasing divide between the two men wasn’t enough, they also have to face a slew of deadly obstacles on their journey through a civil war torn England while being chased by a mysterious assassin with an agenda of his own. The sudden presence of Anna, a bewitching woman, on their path eventually brings the palpable tension to a boil.”
The script hits a myriad of notes in one sitting. It’s an action/adventure, a potent drama, an exploration of faith/fanaticism and a mystery all at once. To say it is my passion project would be an understatement. More soon! If you’ll be at the Frontières Market and want to meet up about HERETIC, send me an e-mail HERE! Presentation, mood board and screenplay available upon request.
“Sicut umbra transeunt dies” As the shadow pass the days.
If there’s one thing that I learned about the film industry over time is that it’s wise to have more than one project to shop around at a time. Right now, I am pushing five of them, all different genres and different budget ranges (with EVA and THE PRIZE getting the most traction thus far). On that, another project was just born (Co-Writer Karim Cheriguene and I recently finished our final draft), it is called HERETIC and the easiest way I can describe it is: Apocalypse Now with Templars!
It started off as short by Karim and we were all set to shoot it. But it got LOTS of love by the folks who read it and all I kept hearing was “it should be a feature”. Hence Karim and I decided to do just that. Personally, I am so passionate about the time period, the subject matter and the themes at hand, that writing it was simply a pleasure.
It’s set in a time when men were men.
Amidst wondrous and treacherous nature.
Explores the double edge sword of spiritual belief.
Sports action and brutal sword fights.
Addresses the themes of brotherhood and the layered ways one can cope with guilt.
Yup, the last time I was THIS pumped about making a film was THE SHELTER, which basically means, there will be no stopping me in getting it off the ground. I already have a name cast and varied production outlets interested. Time to bring this one home.
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!
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him.” – John Paul II
Although the world around me seemed to go totally bat-shit crazy (the older I get, the less I relate to our society – I think that’s normal… right?), I had one major professional let-down (a film role that I was sure I had locked but lost due to politics…) and that death/near death was rampant in my inner circle (my uncle died, my aunt died, my dog died, two family members almost died…), 2016 wound up being a solid year for me personally and professionally.
I grew a lot as a human being, got close to my family again, started seeing life in a new light, solidified my spiritual path (which sent me on pilgrimages and lots of diving into books and shit soaking in knowledge…) and switched gears (for the better) as to the man I want to be. I also finally started reaping the rewards of my hard work. Yeah it felt good and definitely gave me the moral boost I needed to keep digging deep and going for my goals no matter the cost. Amidst doing what I love (traveling, being in nature, training, hiking, kayaking, hanging with close friends aka family like Berge, Deke, Elaine etc.) here are my top moments of 2016!
So that’s pretty much it! I’m personally very excited for 2017! Professionally, I have EVA and THE PRIZE (two films that I will direct) that are heading in the right direction in terms of getting off the ground. Am also diving into HERETIC today, a screenplay that I am writing with Karim Chériguène (it started off as a short by Karim, one that was so damn good, that it begged to be a feature). Think Apocalypse Now but with Templars! Am very excited about that one and already have some production pieces locked in Spain for it. It’s my new passion project! Meaning I’ll kill myself to see it through.
I also anticipate in traveling further this year and establishing myself even more within the film biz. Lots of new cards were handed to me in 2016 and I’m gonna play them the best I can this year. No matter how it goes, I am now better equipped to deal with what goes down, which will make the process easier for me. I see hardships differently, take on obstacles differently and view life as a whole differently. Get in the ring 2017! You’re mine.