A vampire movie made in Martinsville and Henry County is taking its hometown by storm.
“Young Blood: Evil Intentions” was released last weekend to near-capacity (and one sell-out) crowds at the Rives Theatre in Uptown Martinsville. Producers and directors Mat Smith and Myron Smith said they could not be happier with the film’s reception, which has included standing ovations.
Mat Smith wrote a movie script a couple of years ago. He wrote the main characters for his daughter, Autumn Ward, now 13, and his girlfriend’s daughter, Zoë Cox, 10. Autumn plays a vampire who lures her little sister, played by Zoe, into committing evil deeds with her.
A year later, Mat Smith and Myron Smith, who are brothers, were talking about making a movie. “Myron said, ‘Let’s do this one because they’ll be growing up soon,’” Mat Smith said.
Much of it was a family affair. Friend Rebecca Kidd played the girls’ mother. The grandmother was played by the Smiths’ father, Brett Smith of Ridgeway. Mat and Myron Smith’s mother, Rita Smith, played a teacher.
They put out the word for actors and extras on Facebook, and they have videos on Youtube. They did a script reading on Dec. 16 at the Daily Grind. The cast of several dozens is mostly local.
Filming began in December. The brothers mostly paid expenses “out of pocket” as they came along, Myron Smith said.
Candice Brewer, who works at Tasty Creme, was among the cast members. “I tried to make it” to scene-filming “every chance I got,” she said.
The experience of filming “makes you more nervous than you think it’s going to,” she said. The brothers had to shoot one of her scenes “a couple of times” until it was just right. However, “these guys are very professional,” she added. “They like you to be at ease.”
After the premiere, several customers at the restaurant recognized her from the movie. “That was kind of cool, being recognized by being in the movie,” she said.
Several professional actors and others in the film and horror industries have appearances in the film. The brothers met some of them at horror conventions, and the actors agreed to film scenes on the spot.
The Smiths found other professionals over the Internet and contacted them by phone calls and emails.
One was Count Smokula of Los Angeles, who plays himself. The brothers thought, “he’d be great as the weird grandfather,” Myron Smith said. Count Smokula did not ask for compensation, but he created a theme song for the movie, so the brothers sent him some money in appreciation.
The principal was played by Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster in the TV series “The Munsters.” For his participation, the brothers made a donation toward an underprivileged child Patrick sponsors.
The brothers commented on how awkward it was at times to, in the course of acting, speak negatively to, or even burp toward, one of the professional actors.
“It’s like you almost hate to talk that way to a celebrity,” Myron Smith, 28, said.
“You wouldn’t talk that way to Eddie Munster,” Mat Smith, 31, agreed.
There were plenty of instances when the movie infringed upon the brothers’ personal lives. For one thing, many of the scenes were shot in their house in Chatham Heights. It became a challenge to maintain consistency within and among scenes, because of the way people would move things around in the house between filming. In one case, Mat Smith said, they had to refilm some scenes when they realized a painting had been moved from one wall to another. “We had to drag Cletus (acting as the sheriff) back out (to refilm), because it was so painfully obvious” that the same painting was on different walls.
Other scenes were filmed in the home of Rita Smith, the brothers’ mother. They also filmed an outdoor fight scene between Dale and a neighbor in Fieldale. Since then, the house where the fight was filmed was destroyed by a car running into it.
Mat’s trademark dreadlocks, which he spent 71?2 years cultivating, were sacrificed in the making of the movie. The pair made several attempts to line up a scene with policeman, but the scene kept falling apart.
“We just couldn’t get enough guys who looked the part,” Mat Smith said. “I didn’t look the part either, but I was willing to shake it up.” Kidd gave him a crew cut so he could play a police officer.
In April, they launched a campaign on the website Kickstarter to appeal for funds. They slightly exceeded their $1,000 goal. That money went toward costumes, such as purchasing a preacher’s robe and renting a mouse suit for a birthday party scene. They also rented a Port-A-John for scenes they filmed at an old school building. The building did not have running water, and the scenes involved a number of children.
Filming and editing took nine months, the brothers said.
The Smiths said they will try for a year to get the movie shown in theaters, then put it on DVD.
Making the movie was at times “hard and overwhelming,” Myron Smith said. “When it came to life on the screen, it was really rewarding.”
The Smith brothers have worked on artistic projects together since they were tykes. As they grew older, they had music bands and a rap band, made comic books and wrote scripts together. Myron Smith coordinated the music series Twisted Local Music, at which Mat Smith’s band, Agents of Chaos, always played.
“We just want to, for the most part, make some art,” Myron Smith said. “We definitely want to continue to create things.”
“The movie thing is different,” Mat Smith said. “It’s bigger than anything we’ve ever done. It’s definitely not the biggest thing we’re ever going to do.”