Beware the Masked One (2012)

It’s been thirteen years since Carol somehow survived almost drowning, and if her dreams are any indication…she is not quite out of the woods yet. With the appearance of a mysterious stranger, and her haunting dream lingering in her mind, Carol’s day is headed straight into the black!

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen & Russ Huard
Starring: Rachel Mather & Dan Davidson

You can also get the free digital download of BtMO here! Just click and download will begin. Then just unzip the file and enjoy!

Director’s Notes

This horror saga began so much simpler than it ended up. And I say that in a very proud and praising manner. When I first penned the short, there was always something missing. And given that it was a short, I was sort of okay with that I guess. I started pursuing it, and as I did, we had the first near flood as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire that had taken place earlier in the summer. The creek behind our building filled with this thick, black water that I managed to capture on film. I knew immediately I wanted to use this footage for something (as at the time, I believed it was something of a rare occurrence), and I began looking at a way to tie it to the Masked One script. BOOM! Suddenly, the mythology behind the story exploded into view.

I could see the entire plot of the Masked One, a deep story that would only be highlighted and have the surface grazed in the short film, but that was unfolding in my mind as I connected the visuals of the creek to the story and myth. A rich horror saga would result, that begs me to return to it. Once I had this expanded idea and script, I started reaching out to local actors I met through Steve from Catching Up. This is where I managed to find the talented Rachel and Dan, and I brought them into the project post-haste. While planning out the project, I sat down with Russ over lunch and we discussed it at length. It was during that lunch that Russ and I came up with the final shot sequence in the film, and I was super-excited to get this project in the can!

I had arranged for Dan and Rachel to come down from Denver for a single day shoot in Manitou Springs (where the trail that inspired this film resides), and had reached out to a former coworker who had a daughter about twelve that we needed to complete the stories’ cyclical bookends. She would bring her daughter by close to the end of our shoot to get those two scenes with her and Dan, or so that was the plan. Unfortunately, as I would get the call midway through our shoot, a family emergency would make that no longer possible. So I was faced with either trying to scramble at the last minute and find a workable replacement, or try to get Dan to give up more of his time to come down from Denver for those two quick scenes. It wasn’t easy, but I opted for the scramble option and Russ managed to come through with his neighbor, Alexandra in the final hour of our scheduled day.

While Alexandra was younger, and well blonder, than I had planned, we didn’t really have any other options for getting the film completed that day, and I just went with it. Alexandra and her mom were so great in working with us. When it came time to get Alexandra soaked for the scenes of her being rescued from drowning, they were both willing to go further with the water than I was. It was something of a cool October day, and the sun was beginning to set, so I didn’t want to put her through too much, and I am not sure the water reads that well on her as a result. However, I am still happy with the shots and believe they work to help establish the story that Rachel’s character relates in the film’s first sequences.

The weather was also not much help as it began a light rain on us as we hiked from position to position on the Intemann trail that we would use to piece together the journey Rachel’s character undergoes. I was already less than comfortable having Dan trekking through the red dirt trail in his nice black suit, without the rain adding to the issue, but he was a real champ about the whole process. I felt bad that Dan suggested a small change to one of the scenes, and we shot it the way he suggested, but ended up not using it, as it didn’t track with the film’s narrative the way I had it scripted. I mention this and show the cut scene in the behind the scenes video you can find on our YouTube channel for Beware the Masked One.

And while I love the way the film came together (especially the closing shot, still one of my favorites I’ve put together on film) I was horrified to learn that I only had about a second’s worth of Rachel’s final dramatic scene, owing to an operational error with my new camera (of which this was the first film shot on Vera). This made me have to take the scene and play it at super slow motion to include it in the film as I wanted, which works still, but just wasn’t what I had intended originally. But there was no way I was going to ask Rachel to come all the way back down from Denver, get soaked with water once again, all so I could reshoot five seconds worth of footage. So I made it work.

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