October 11, 2012

Indie Film: Into the woods of 'Damnationland'

The third annual anthology of Maine-made horror films premieres on Oct. 19.


Since 2010, teams of Maine filmmakers have gathered every October and dedicated their talents toward the worthy goal of making local audiences wet themselves in terror. Now, as Halloween approaches, it's "Damnationland" time again.

click image to enlarge

Kyle Rankin directs actress Jamie Tisdale in the short “Raw Footage.”

Holly K. Clark photo


NICKELODEON CINEMA, Portland (patriotcinemas.com)

Thursday: "All's Well That Ends Well." The Nick beams in this performance of Shakespeare's "problem play" of love, deceit and all-around male jerkiness straight from the Bard's own Globe Theater.

SPACE GALLERY, Portland (space538.org)

Saturday: "5 Broken Cameras." Documentary about Palestinian father Emad Burnat, whose filmed record of nonviolent resistance in a West Bank village is punctuated by the destruction of each of his five video cameras.

The third annual Maine-made horror anthology premieres Oct. 19 at the State Theatre, and will include contributions from local moviemakers Allen Baldwin (Portland), Regina Bartholomew (New Gloucester), The Sisters Grumbling (Wells natives), R.J. Wilson (an Auburn native based in Ohio), and, perhaps the most successful Maine filmmaker of his generation, Kyle Rankin.

Portland native Rankin, alongside his filmmaking partner Efram Potelle, won the prestigious HBO "Project Greenlight" filmmaking competition in 2003 and directed the resulting national feature, "The Battle of Shaker Heights" starring a young Shia Labeouf.

After heading out on his own, Rankin directed the horror comedy "Infestation" (released by Icon Entertainment) and his newest feature, the post-apocalyptic "Nuclear Family," premieres in webseries form on SyFy.com on Oct. 15. In addition, he's just inked a deal with the production company of actor Jeremy Renner ("The Avengers") to write and direct a feature next year.

Now living in California, Rankin is coming home, cinematically speaking, with his "Damnationland" short "Raw Footage." He recently took the time to answer some questions for this column:

How did you get involved in this year's "Damnationland"?

I reached out to Allen (Baldwin) after last year's film, and I was so impressed. I said I wished "Damnationland" had existed when I was in Portland and, true to their word, they contacted me this spring, and have been really good about checking in. It's a refreshing East Coast approach – out here (in L.A.), people only get in contact with you when the contract is signed.

What have you thought of the "Damnationlands" you've seen?

I'm really impressed by it. (Producer/director) Dave (Meiklejohn) sent me a bunch of the past films, and it's a lot of fun. I'm really impressed by their whole organization.

So what's your film about?

Hmm, I don't know how to tease it without giving anything away. It all takes place in the woods, and it's more of a thriller/tension thing than straight-up horror. There's a group of people meeting in the woods, and maybe savvy viewers will think it's going in one particular direction, and then it goes in another.

There's a lot of orchestration – the majority of the film is one six- or seven-minute shot with a lot of things happening. There are four really talented guys and one girl, including (Skowhegan native) Nate Aldrich.

I'm really proud of it. It's self-funded, but I'm calling in a ton of favors for the sound and color-timing for a more cinematic look. 

CHECK IN NEXT WEEK for more details on this year's "Damnationland," which screens at 8 p.m. Oct. 19. General admission tickets are $10, and may be purchased through statetheatreportland.com

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.


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