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'Never Look Back Again
Former furniture factory becomes setting of film
Travis Thompson stars in “Never Look Back Again,” an independent horror movie written and directed by James Wayland and executive produced by Rudy Law, owner of Rude Dog Auction Co. and a former Henry County School Board member. (Contributed still from “Never Look Back Again”)
“Never Look Back Again,” the first movie from Henry County-based Pirate Pug Productions, is not the average independent horror picture.
The movie trades buckets of blood for a more “classical” approach, according to James Wayland, who wrote and directed it. The executive producer is Rudy Law, owner of Rude Dog Auction Co. and a former Henry County School Board member.
“Normally, whenever you think of low-budget horror,” Wayland said, “it runs to camp (exaggerated for comedic effect) or schlock. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, because there’s an audience for that, and there are some people who generate that by design. For me, the challenge that made this attractive ... was what if we tried to do a horror film on a shoestring budget that was not camp or not schlock at all, but was a cerebral and low-key. I don’t know if I want to say ‘high brow,’ but we’re not really going for the shock value or gore.”
The hope, Wayland said, is that the movie will linger with the viewer long after the credits roll.
The plot of the movie, he said, is that a troubled young man going through a painful divorce inherits a factory from his estranged father. Because he needs the money, he returns to his hometown to clean up the factory and attempt to sell it, with a little help from some old friends.
However, something is amiss at the factory.
“There’s definitely a question throughout of whether or not this could be something supernatural,” Wayland said, “or whether this is just the story of a very troubled man who’s coming apart at the seams.”
The factory setting, he said, almost serves as a character in the film.
“We shot the vast majority of the movie at the old Stanley Furniture,” Wayland said. “There are some other locations, but it is a bit claustrophobic by design. The set itself inspired the script in a lot of ways.”
Wayland discovered the set through his friendship with Law, who for roughly two years has rented a section of the former factory to house Rude Dog Auction Co. Every time he went to visit Law at the plant, Wayland was struck by how much potential the factory had as a movie set.
Law said he has known Wayland for some time.
“He interviewed me many years ago when I was running for school board,” Law said. “We developed a friendship, and then later we worked together at StarTek, so that’s how we got to know one another.”
Several years ago, Law said, Wayland, himself and a few other people would get together and shoot short films with the hope of eventually putting them online. The project eventually drifted apart, but Law did not lose his interest in making movies.
Particularly horror movies.
“I love the classics, the Universal films from back in the ’30s,” Law said. “‘Dracula,’ ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Wolfman.’
“I guess the one that affected me the most, the one that scared me the most, would be ‘The Exorcist’ back in ’70s. I lost sleep over that one.”
To make the movie, Law and Wayland formed Pirate Pug Productions, named in honor of Bella and Maggie, Law and Wayland’s respective pug dogs, Law said.
“In addition to our love of pugs,” Wayland said, “we’re definitely playing by our own rules here.”
Plus, Wayland added, a logo of a pug wearing an eye patch is going to be “positively adorable.”
“Our goal was to make this film and make further films,” Law said. “Also we’re talking about filming commercials and doing other types of videography, now that we have the equipment.”
For the movie, Law said, they invested in a professional-grade camera — a Canon XA10 — along with a suite of editing software.
“Cinematography was definitely a point of emphasis for us,” Wayland said. “I’ve worked with some other independent filmmakers, and sometimes guerrilla filmmaking is a little roughshod. I think we went about this in a different way.”
As executive producer, Law said, he put up the initial investment for the movie, and he also plays a role in the movie and got to take part in the creative process.
“It was definitely a collaborative process,” Wayland said. “We always captured what we wanted, but there was always room for some improv.”
Right now, Law said, the movie is roughly 80 percent complete, with the majority of the footage shot and edited. Wayland expects to have a final cut ready in February.
The plan now, Law said, “is to finish production, market it locally and get some local support, put it into film festivals and then see if we can market it on the national level. We’re going to be producing DVDs, T-shirts and things like that for our marketing. When we’re ready to go, we want the barrels loaded.”
“Never Look Back Again” is intended to be the vanguard for Pirate Pug Productions, with future movies to follow, Law said.
“Pirate Pug Productions is something we’re trying to build not only for us, but for other artists in the area,” Wayland said. “I’ve grown up here, and I’ve been very involved in the local movie scene and the local music scene. I think we have a lot of talent that, by and large, goes untapped, because there aren’t venues or projects for it.”
“Hopefully,” Wayland added, “Pirate Pug is a successful venture for us, and if so, I’d like to think there’s room on that ship for some other people as well.”
“Never Look Back Again” stars Travis Thompson, Law, Ryan Culver, Chris Gibbs, Wayland and John Reinhold. Mal Rorrer provided the score, and Chad Culver assisted in the production.
For more information on “Never Look Back Again” and Pirate Pug Productions, visit www.facebook.com/neverlookbackagainmovie