Inspiration comes in many forms; It could be something you do or see on a walk. Maybe it was a song that put a cause in your head. Sometimes it’s somebody you meet with an underdog story that marvels anything else you’ve heard in months. This story has creativity at the wheel, passion riding shotgun and tenacity under the hood. One of the best qualities of inspirational people stories is that most of us have one of our own. I rank inspiration slightly above perspiration and right beside laughter. Maybe you agree to disagree. In that event, I will avoid confrontation and move onto this inspirational filmmaker, Lyle Goodwin who I spoke to all the way from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia – founded in 1761 – population 6500.
This is the second time I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking with Lyle about one of his feature films. His other feature film, South of Hell was action/horror/martial arts. This film is a horror/thriller with an underlying message about severe anxiety and devastating depression. Lyle is one of the nicest people I’ve ever interviewed for this magazine. His filmmaking story is incredibly inspirational. He made his first feature film while maintaining a full time job and financing it out of pocket. He would film on weekends and over holidays. It took him years to shoot all the footage. Eight years would pass before an audience would see it. It’s currently available for purchase online. There is no quitting for Lyle, there is only the starting line and the finish line.
“It’s been awhile since we last spoke. It was very exciting news to hear you’re making your next feature film. Please tell me what it’s about and where the inspiration came from?”
“Yes it’s great to be talking to you about it. My last film took much longer to make. I didn’t want to take that long for this one. From start to finish it will be ready for release this fall. I started writing this story halfway through the making of my last film, South of Heaven which is currently available online. I was actually inspired by the Chuck Norris film, Hero and the Terror, Lou Diamond Phillips film, The First Power and Sylvester Stallone’s film, Cobra. The film begins with special agent Nicholas Holland thinking he’s hunting a lone serial killer but finds out there’s an entire cult behind some of the murders. They have a slayer for targeted killings but they will take out anybody that gets in the way of his mission. They are assassins in their own right. They stream the murders online and claim they’re doing God’s work. I also wanted to tell a story about a person that was at the top of their game but due to circumstance they are knocked down to their lowest point. In the beginning of this story, Nick and his partner are searching the countryside for the killer. They get separated when Nick confronts him. He is almost killed and has a mental breakdown that gets him institutionalized. I wanted to bring attention to mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression. Throughout the story, Nick tries to redeem himself and find his way back. I’m hoping the character can inspire others to forge through their own anxiety and depression. I had something to say on the subject so I made it an essential part of the story.”
The backstory is gripping and you quickly feel empathy for the hero. You’re rooting for him from the get go.
“Did you end up watching any documentaries on serial killers?”
“I sat through many documentaries to get into the headspace. So much so, that I began to get nightmares. One of the creepiest things I had heard a serial killer say on camera when asked why he picked a particular victim was, because they were home.”
Lyle is a self-taught filmmaker. He applied for film school twice and was rejected twice. He tells me they said no so he said yes. He found some DIY filmmaking videos on youtube. It was a free education. He says he even learned how to make a fog machine. But you’ll have to revert to youtube for instructions.
“You wrote the screenplay, acted and directed this film. What other hats did you wear?”
“I did wear many hats making this film. I was also the producer, set decorator, visual effects, digital effects, stunt man and editor.”
“How often are you working on the production?”
“I work on days, evenings, weekends and in between writing and editing. I quite my full-time job to be able to dedicate more time to the film but I still have a part-time job. I edit as I film so it will be finished sooner. I edit for a few hours before going to work and again after I get home until 11 pm.”
“After you finish making this film do you know what type of film you’d like to make next?”
“In terms of future projects, I have the next 5 films already worked out. It’s just a matter of which ones will get made first. So far I’ve made action, suspense, horror/thriller but would like to make a sci-fi movie next. It won’t be in space but will be a futuristic tale. There will still be lots of action and drama in it.”
He explained the premise of the next film he wants to make. It has great bones, lots of heart and a great storyline. I have a feeling we’ll be talking all about it in the near future. He also gave me the run down of the next one he wants to make after that one. It’s completely original and very different from the others. He calls it a popcorn movie. Lyle wants to keep the momentum going and says his ideas machine never shuts off. He always keeps a pen and piece of paper wherever he goes. If he travels anywhere he will usually bring a laptop to write when inspiration strikes.
“In this film you’re playing the lead that performs your own stunts. What was that like?”
“The killer, Thomas Wright is 6’2 and a behemoth in comparison to me. To make him appear even larger, we found an impression in the ground that I stand inside, making him look 1 ½ feet taller. He also has a 2nd degree black belt. In my previous film there was a lot of martial arts fighting. Although there is a life or death fight scene in this film, we use chains, guns and I probably throw three punches. I did take a lot of punishment and in one scene was picked up and thrown against a boat. The big guy also picks me up and throws me into a wall. I wrote a fight to the death ending into the script and knew it had to be visually convincing. It was all or nothing. Luckily for me, the deputy sheriff I’m working with happens to have paintball equipment in the back of his squad car. I put it all on before the big fight and before getting thrown into the wall.”
When Lyle originally wrote the ending for Nightmares the scene took place in an old farm house. The house had fallen through and he had to use a trailer. He had to change the end of his script to accommodate the new location. It wasn’t an easy task but he had to improvise. Lyle did the interior decorating himself. He hung chains, fake bones and made it creepy as hell. When the actors and crew came in to discover the new set for the first time, their jaws dropped. He says the impression was priceless and everything he had hoped for.
“How did you finance Nightmares?”
“I was originally going to put some footage together and crowd fund the production but I started receiving so much interest from people that wanted to be part of the film I decided to finance it entirely out of pocket. I used my life savings to make this film.”
Most of the feedback on the script has been about the backstories of the characters that are being killed off. Where other writers may not have considered it important, he did it believing it was important to know the motives behind their murders. He didn’t want to make a ‘by the numbers movie’ even with the blood bank amount of horror in the film. He had a story to tell and wanted to engross the audience with something they haven’t heard before as well as inspire them to rise above depression and anxiety in order to save themselves.
“Where did you find your cast and crew?”
“I’ve known most of the cast from the local arts community in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The others have come over from my last film, South Of Heaven. The remainder came through my cinematographer James Turbin and his enormous network of actors. Right now the cast count is at 21 but by the time we wrap, it will be close to 30. Two actors are from out of town. One had moved from Yarmouth to Halifax but is willing to come up when I need him. Another man living in the Annapolis Valley had come to shoot the majority of his scenes in a single day. I wrote the beginning and the ending first so I shot them first before moving onto the middle.”
“Are you the sole editor?”
“I am the only editor working on my version of the film but my right hand man and cinematographer James Turbin had made me a deal to allow him to edit his own version of Nightmares with the footage in exchange for his services and equipment. I’ve looked at his version and there’s no comparison between the two. It’s remarkable that he’s been able to tell a very different version of events.”
“Where did you shoot all the scenes?”
“We filmed all the locations in Yarmouth and most of the shoots were 4 hours long. This was a collaborative effort. When I show up on set I knows the shots I want and how to get them. Sometimes I have to give a little to get a little. I want everyone to feel invested and happy to be there. I want them to come back for the next one.”
Lyle is paying everyone on the production including the actors. He has created a system that compensates according to the amount of scenes the actors are in. He is paying his core people slightly higher because of their fulltime commitment. In addition, they will all receive a copy.
“What is the best part about making films?”
“It’s the best job in the world, taking what you’ve written and bringing it to life. What was in your head is given life through the actors and crew. I’d do it for free.”
Lyle has four distributors interested in Nightmares once its finished. He was aiming for an R-rated film but he says it may be recognized as PG.
“Who will be making the music?”
“For the music I’ve purchased a keyboard to create some pieces and will also be using stock media in combination to compliment the sound. I’m also using Asylum from Epics Stock Media.
Lyle’s mind keeps inventing and his storytelling instincts put it all in order. Having a message to share with his audience while giving them a front seat into his minds eye is what he aims for as he moves forward with new productions. We can only hope we get a ticket to the party.