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Published:December 16th, 2006 05:07 EST

Interview with Director Alan Rowe Kelly on The Blood Shed

By Denise Kaminsky

Hi Alan, Nice to talk with you again. Tell me about The Blood Shed. About how many days did it take to shoot?

The Blood Shed was originally scheduled to shoot on weekends over a 12-day period, beginning in March 2006 and wrapping at the end of April. We we’re lucky enough to cut the shooting schedule down to 9 days by combining scenes on particular location dates. Along with that adjustment, we only worked a 10-hour day on two of those dates. If I can help it and I’m 100% prepped before the cast & crew arrive on set, I try to wrap each day within 8 hours.

I know this is not the norm for most film shoots, but I’ve been on enough sets to know how much pre-planning and multi-tasking is needed to ensure the smoothest day possible. I’m not a director who insists on beating my cast and crew into the ground. I want them fresh and alert and I know for a fact that anything after an 8 to 10-hour day is where mistakes happen due to simple exhaustion. Of course, unforeseen things always happen and you have to be prepared. So if this means no sleep for me, I’ll simply catch up on that ‘after’ the film is wrapped.

Our schedule was short because the film was originally intended to be a 35-minute short tale for the Hung by a Thread horror anthology that I’m creating with filmmakers Michael Todd Schneider and Tyler Tharpe. We got so carried away with the filming of The Blood Shed that we had no choice but to make it a feature! I did make good on the trilogy and filmed A Far Cry from Home for the anthology. I believe that will be one of my best pieces yet – if not, the most controversial.

Tell us about the characters and why you chose them?

My favorite part of writing a screenplay is fleshing out the characters and who will portray them. The key challenge with The Blood Shed was realizing most people would say, ‘big deal – another inbred, cannibal, family movie’. I had to make sure the characters weren’t the same folks from films like The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Bullions had to be more adjusted to today’s society because the rural space in the outlying areas of north New Jersey is rapidly shrinking due to overpopulation and mass development. Leaving less area to hide in order to live a private, undetected life. True, they are inbred, social misfits and follow their own law and family code, but they also had to learn to adapt to the encroaching suburban sprawl and still stay under the public radar. It is when the two worlds collide that things get messy!

The other great thing about characters in this film is its excellent cast; Terry M. West (The Bunker) plays Papa ‘Elvis’ Bullion, the family patriarch and lawgiver. Joshua Nelson (Aunt Rose) plays eldest brother ‘Butternut, a rabid child of want whose delinquent mentality and competitiveness cause a constant riff with Papa in his quest for ‘head of the household’. Mike Lane (Fear of the Dark) is the dim-witted ‘Hubcap’, a stepbrother with a watch fetish who is always the follower. Susan Adriensen (Under the Raven’s Wing) portrays Sno-Cakes, a distant cousin ala ‘Daisy Mae’ living in a pup tent out in the back yard. Then living on the second floor of the house is ‘Gramma’ played by Robert Norman.  Feared by all, she is a powerful old hag who comes from a long line of mystic descendents. And rounding off the cast was the gigantic role of ‘Beefteena Bullion’. Beefteena is ‘daddy’s little girl’ and barrels in at about 300 lbs. She dresses like Shirley Temple, has quite a nasty growling temper, and thinks she’s 12 years old. When in reality, she is in her mid-forties.

Casting Beefteena was difficult because I couldn’t find the right actress to play her. And the actresses I did approach read the script and flat out said ‘No Way‘! My friends convinced me that the only person left to play the role was ‘moi’. So I put my vanity aside, gained over 50 lbs., donned some false teeth, and began studying every nasty little girl who skipped around my neighborhood! What an experience! And at the same time, very freeing. I was so fortunate to have the very talented Jeremiah Kipp (The Pod) on board as assistant director to keep everything in line, because at times it was really too funny to have me spouting out directions to cast and crew while dressed like a giant Rhoda Penmark in tap shoes!

To round off the rest of the cast in the ‘suburban’ roles, I recruited the talents of my I’ll Bury You Tomorrow leads, Jerry Murdock, Katherine O’Sullivan and Zoe Daelman Chlanda. Sandra Schaller, Kane Manera, Brian Juergens, Sasha Friedenberg, and Fangoria’s Michael Gingold, in a great cameo role, were also on board.

The film was shot on location in the garden state of Weird New Jersey! Primarily in Paterson, Little Falls and Denville. Our interior sets for the Bullion home were constructed at studios in East Hanover and Verona under the careful direction of art director/actress Sandra Schaller.

The Blood Shed is presently being submitted to festivals worldwide for 2007. Like my approach with I‘ll Bury you tomorrow, I’ll enter as many festivals as I can to gain exposure for the film. We’ve already been invited to screen at some festivals in Italy as well as previous festivals where I screened IBYT. I guess that they want to see what’s next up my sleeve! I’ll also do some local midnight screenings in downtown Manhattan and New Jersey.

Will there be a sequel to The Blood Shed?

Funny you should mention that! We have been discussing a possible sequel and I do have a treatment called The Blood Trailer where the Bullions ‘take it on the road’ to visit some relatives upstate at an abandoned campground!

The original cast has agreed to return to further explore the exploits of our beloved inbred clan. I will also reprise the role of Beefteena, only this time, with prosthetics and mucho padding. There’s no way I’m putting all that weight back on again – it’s been too hard just getting it off this past year! The Blood Trailer will only happen if response to The Blood Shed is positive. So keep your fingers crossed that folks will enjoy it, because it would be a riot to make another!

Share with us something about the new film Vindication?Vindication is the film debut of Bart Mastronardi, my brilliant cinematographer from The Blood Shed and A Far cry From Home. Bart is one of my favorite people who is talented, introspective and very giving as a director, totally dedicated to his craft. Vindication is a very different kind of horror movie in that it uses visual metaphors and a touch of Shakespeare to create a surreal world of dementia and chaos, all within the mind of its lead character. I think it will be chilling!

Tell me about your character in the film?

Well this was so much fun! I play ‘Urbane’ a very flamboyant urban ‘seer’ with quite a disturbing ‘optical’ condition. This fortune-teller is not like any I’ve seen before and Bart wrote some incredible dialogue for me to run with. It was very challenging and definitely one of the highlights of my acting career so far!

I can’t wait to see the finished product next year!

For more information on Alan go to: