In a time where the slasher genre has been done to death, it’s difficult to create a new character that resonates with an audience. Tory Jones seems to have found that niche with his first effort The Wicked One. A Kentucky native, Tory is content with creating engaging and visceral stories in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He’s already beginning production on his new project Angel as well as producing more slasher fare with Scream for Summer. I got a chance to shoot the proverbial breeze with the newly established writer/director and find out where his passion for film making comes from.
PJ Starks: Your directorial debut film The Wicked One recently dropped and seems to be finding an audience fast. What’s been the most exciting part of all this so far?
Tory Jones: The most exciting part is that people are getting to see something that so many labored over. I think to have a small tiny little low budget film have cosplayers across the globe and people really digging your character speaks volumes of what we were able to accomplish. It’s not a perfect film, but I think it’s something to be proud of. It’s doing well and has exceeded a lot of expectations. For me personally I would say the most exciting part is that this is essentially the movie I had dreamed about making since I can remember and despite all the limitations from a budgetary standpoint we achieved it.
PJ Starks: How did you come up with the story for The Wicked One?
Tory Jones: I had always wanted to make a film that felt like a tip of the hat to Halloween, yet introduce my own character. So the idea was certainly always there but so much of the credit has to go to my friend and partner in Jonestown Films, Cheyenne Gordon. Probably the most gifted writer I know, he just has a way with developing characters and making you genuinely care about them. And where I lack, he excels and where he lacks, I excel. So he’s one of the biggest reasons I have been able to achieve some of my goals. I have to credit him with helping make those characters and the story work as well as it did. Me and him finish each other’s thoughts and sentences and are on the same page to a degree that we both challenge each other and drive each other insane at the same time but it works and I’m super proud of the story we developed.
PJ Starks: What was the most challenging aspect of making an independent film?
Tory Jones: The most challenging aspect at least for me on making a micro budget indie film is wanting to do more than the budget allows. When we initially started preproduction we had this huge facility and we were building an insane asylum corridor with patient cells. Me, my cinematographer, and others were all there working on this and we soon realized this is going to take 80 percent of the budget if we do it, so we opted to try and find another location. It’s frustrating when you see things one way and you have to compromise because there’s just not enough money to do what you want. I think all of us struggle with this.
PJ Starks: Looking back through all the trials and tribulations of directing an indie feature is there anything you would have done differently and what have you taken away from the process and will apply to the next project?
Tory Jones: I think in retrospect I did the best I could do under the circumstances for The Wicked One. I will admit after it fell through the first time and the footage was lost it was demoralizing and emotionally devastating. I knew though, that this was the breaking point, either we make this film or we never do another one. But coming into it, and this may be hard for some to understand I would say that mentally and emotionally I wasn’t as into it as much as I should have been, I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I would have liked. I struggled because this was a film I had been dealing with for 4 years and all I wanted to do was move on to something else, but it had to be done. I think to those I worked closest with on the film they sorta knew I was struggling but they rallied behind me and they kept me going. There’s so many lessons I learned making that film that I will take with me going forward. You learn what works best, who you gel with, who is detrimental to the set and project, so many different things and lessons you learn.
PJ Starks: Right now you’re producing a film called Scream For Summer. Can you talk about that film a bit and what we can expect?
Tory Jones: I was involved with Scream for Summer from its initial inception. Again it was one of those things Cheyenne and myself had always wanted to do. I was directing it initially but that was very much Cheyenne’s story and I felt he should step up and direct his vision. No one was going to see his vision the way he did. As we continued to talk and discuss the future of the film it was me who suggested he bring on Studio 605 to help him achieve that. We were going in another direction and I just thought that they would be the right fit for this, so we did and they are well on their way to being done filming. After that Roman who edited The Wicked One will be editing for Cheyenne. I’ve been involved on a very minor level with that but I am super proud of my friend for what he and the team are accomplishing.
PJ Starks: You’re also in pre-production on your next film Angel. What is the premise and how will it differ from your previous effort?
Tory Jones: Angel is probably going to be a very unique and different film. We are heavy into preproduction now and hoping to shoot this October/November. It is sorta loosely inspired by the disappearance of the Roanoke colony in that there was this town where something terrible happened and they all disappeared. So for thirty years the town has been walled off from the outside world and labeled as tainted and cursed. So our team of reporters/investigators travel there to do a story and try to figure out what is going on and why people who venture to close to the town often times go missing. More so of a suspense driven film, there’s some action elements in there, some surprises and things I don’t think people will expect. It’s definitely reminiscent of Silent Hill or The Chernobyl Diaries in a sense. Some interesting characters and things in there. Hopefully we will secure our funding and be able to bring it to life.
PJ Starks: Can fans of The Wicked One expect a follow up? If so, are there any details you can give?
Tory Jones: In regards to a follow up to The Wicked One, we had some interest in revisiting it next fall. Maybe we will, who knows. We probably prematurely announced a sequel when me and Cheyenne have only loosely discussed the story for it. I think the only way to do a sequel to that film would be to go in a new direction while at the same time building upon the foundation we laid in the first. It would have to be a very different experience and film. Working against it is what we touched on earlier that I spent four years with the same character trying to make that film and I would have to be able to invest in it fully again to make it work…Tough to say at this time whether that will happen or if we opt to do something else. I can tell you I have a desire to do something outside of the genre, I have an idea and a character I think is really cool. So we will see what happens.