New England made independent film Mark of the Dog Rose had its premiere on Sunday at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA. The film is about a man’s sister who goes missing and is thought to be the latest victim of a serial killer. It boasts lots of local latent including Giancarlo Madonnini, Alyssa Freedman, Baylee Ricci, Andy Favreau, Laura Pizzuti, John Joseph Lindsey and Shannon Carter. Carter also wrote and produced the film and I spoke with her about the film, the inspiration behind it and what’s next for her.
Shannon Carter on how long the film took to make, “The project all together (including writing, casting, fundraising, filming, post production) took about 3 years. Actual filming was about a year's worth. Jessica Cook (director and editor) could only come down and film on weekends from Vermont where she lives. Plus, we all work full time jobs and we took a couple months off for the holidays. We started filming August 20, 2011 and then as I said just about every weekend after that, minus the breaks. Fortunately we didn't have to do too many re-shoots. I believe only four and they were all very quick scenes.”
I asked her where the idea for the movie came from and the inspiration behind it. “After our first film Sunblocked, which was a light comedy, we wanted to go in the complete opposite direction and do a drama. Since Jess wrote the first film, it was decided I would write this one. I love to write and have been doing it since I was really little, so needless to say I was very excited. I am a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, as well as Law & Order SVU, LOL, so I really wanted to do a story along those lines and include those key elements. I feel like Hollywood now focuses more on gore and nudity, trying to go for the shock value as opposed to focusing more on the story. I wanted to incorporate more of the psychological aspect, having most things implied. This allows for the imagination to takeover which I think can make it all the more creepier. But anyway, when I came up with the idea for the plot I presented it to Jess and she loved it, so I started writing...and just didn't stop. I finished the script in only two months.”
A producer on the film, Shannon also had a hand in the casting process. I asked her if she had anyone in mind while writing and if anyone surprised her with their performance. “Yes, it was decided from the beginning that myself, Giancarlo Madonnini and Alyssa Freedman (all from Sunblocked) would have roles in this film. So I did keep that in mind while I was writing. I wanted to incorporate a little of ourselves in the roles, but mainly wanted to make them different. Gives it a bit more of challenge with acting. Once we were ready for casting we held an open audition at CDIA in Waltham. It was really fun and we had a lot of talented people audition. Some of the decisions were really hard, but we were very happy with the final result. There were two actors who we were so impressed by that I actually expanded their roles to make them more major characters. They were Paul Lucci and Richard Parker. I had a lot of fun writing their roles and decided to make them sort of the comic relief with their characters constantly bickering.”
The biggest thing in independent film nowadays is crowd funding. It has its supporters and its haters and Shannon talked about raising funds for the film. “We did use Kickstarter and fortunately met our goal. We wanted to be realistic so we made it for $1000 and were able to make a little more than that. We also held a live fundraiser at a hall in Woburn, MA with local bands (mostly from the Sunblocked soundtrack) who came out to play. Food was generously donated by the Ninety-Nine Restaurant and raffles donated primarily by my family. It was really successful. Unfortunately, like most films more money than you thought is always needed, so a good amount of our budget ended up coming out of my and Jess's own pockets.”
She talked about where she sees herself going from this point forward, “I love acting, producing and writing. If I could do those as full time jobs I would be a very happy girl. I have wanted to act since I was three years old and it will always be my passion. I do think I will probably take a bit of a break to focus on my other love writing. Recently I finished my debut novel, which will be the first in a four book series called the Heir of Tara series. It took me a year and four months to research and write and I am ecstatic that it is finally done! In my defense I was working on Mark of the Dog Rose in between so I probably would have finished it sooner haha. It is a fantasy series with the first book taking place primarily in Salem and Boston. I am already itching to start Book Two. I have the outlines done for both the second and third books. After the premiere I think most of my time is going to be dedicated to finishing the series, and maybe doing a screenplay or two in between.
“Jess and I's company Astropiano Films will still be a big focus for us too. We are going to take a much needed break from feature films (it was very time consuming and the majority of our lives revolved around it), but plan to do shorts and music videos, which is the primary focus of our film company. Recently we just finished a music video for local musician Anthony Colarusso and his song "The Beast", which is featured on the Mark of the Dog Rose soundtrack. We have had the good fortune to work with some amazing local bands and our name is getting out in the local music scene. It's a great feeling when bands approach you to shoot their video after seeing your work. My partner Jess is the music video Queen! She just has such great vision and really connects with the song. Her editing is magical, so the final product is always fantastic.”
Learn more about the film at: www.Facebook.com/MarkoftheDogRose
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