The Featured Presentation

Vanessa Angel

Vanessa Angel as Professor Anderson in Lycan

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of our LYCAN WEEK ongoing feature!

Opening today in select theaters, “Lycan” tells the story of six college kids who revisit an old Georgia legend, the strange and puzzling story of Emily Burt, the Talbot County werewolf. Based upon true historical events, the film features Vanessa Angel (“Kingpin,” “Weird Science”) as a professor who inadvertently thrusts her students into the adventure of their young lives.

We recently sat down with Angel to discuss being on the forefront of the cable television revolution, breaking preconceived casting notions, and why she was so happy to step into the classroom for “Lycan.”

TrunkSpace: You starred in the series adaptation of “Weird Science,” which in a lot of ways was on the forefront of scripted television branching out beyond the major networks. Do you think of it as a pioneer series in that regard?
Angel: Yes, and actually, “Weird Science” was USA Network’s first scripted show. I think they did “Weird Science” and “Duckman” at the same time. So, yes, it was definitely a pioneer show and now there are so many scripted cable shows as well as on Amazon and Netflix. Everybody’s doing it, so yeah, that was sort of new back then.

TrunkSpace: But as you were working on it, was acting in cable viewed differently than it is now?
Angel: Yeah, people were a little bit skeptical. Agents and managers would prefer you to go into a regular network show, but it was just such a different show that I was willing to jump in and take a chance. And actually, because John Landis was the executive producer, it got picked up for 13 episodes right off the bat. So, it wasn’t like a pilot and then, “Let’s see what happens.” That was another incentive to do it. And I hadn’t really done that much comedy and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn how to do that on the fly. It was a great experience and we ended up doing 88 episodes. It was really a good time in my life.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned not really doing comedy before “Weird Science,” but in a lot of ways you became synonymous with comedy after that.
Angel: I know! My very first film was “Spies Like Us,” even though I was sort of window dressing in that movie.

That’s the thing, you do one thing that you get known for and that opens a lot of similar doors. Not that I’m complaining because I got the chance to shoot “Kingpin” during a hiatus of “Weird Science” at that same time. It can be a little frustrating getting sort of put in a certain box at a certain point in your career, but I’ve actually, over the years, done a really diverse amount of work. A lot of people don’t know some of the stuff that I’ve done. Before I did “Weird Science” I was actually on a drama called “Reasonable Doubts” were I played a police officer with Mark Harmon and Marlee Matlin. People just don’t ever think that I would’ve played a cop on an American TV show.

TrunkSpace: Do you think it’s more difficult for a woman in Hollywood, particularly when you were starting out, to not be pigeonholed?
Angel: Yes, it’s really hard, especially because I had done “Baywatch” and I had done some things that really do sort of put you in that category. And plus I was a model, so I had that kind of “package” as well. Perception is so much in this business. They see your resume and that you’ve done a certain amount of certain things and they definitely think that you have limited range and then they’re not even willing to give you a chance to come in and show them otherwise. So it’s super frustrating and it’s still like that to a certain degree. There’s some roles that come up that I feel I’m right for and then you hear from your agent, “Oh, well they don’t think that you’re right or a good fit.” And I’m like, “No, but I’m where I am now in my life and I’m so different to the girl that was on ‘Weird Science’ and ‘Kingpin.’” And sometimes they just don’t see it.

The good thing nowadays is that you can self-tape, which means that if they’re not willing to see you for something, and you’re really passionate about it, you can put yourself on tape and send it to them in hopes that you might change their mind. It doesn’t often work, but there’s that opportunity.

Angel in Kingpin

TrunkSpace: There seems to be a whole new aspect to the casting process nowadays as well and that’s how many followers you have on social media. We’ve heard stories of people losing out on parts because someone else had a bigger following, which adds a new layer of frustration to the rejection process.
Angel: I know, right!? I’ve heard the same thing. I don’t even have an Instagram account. I’m really old-school. I’m not a young girl anymore. I think that’s more a priority for younger actors. But yes, there’s literally YouTube sensations and people with massive Instagram followings who get opportunities over really experienced, well-trained actors because, like you said, they have more followers, which is insane. I mean, I have a Facebook fan page, but that’s about it. And I can’t kind of wrap my head around that new way of thinking. But again, at my point in my career, in my life, it probably wouldn’t particularly effect me if I had a massive amount of followers. I’m not really sure. I think it’s more of the sort of 20-something crowd.

The business has definitely changed a lot since I started.

Angel with director/writer Bev Land on the set of Lycan

TrunkSpace: Some of those business changes are certainly good for creative people, notably that it’s more accessible for individuals to make content on their own now. Your film “Lycan” is a great example of that.
Angel: Yes, I think there are more avenues now. Dania and her husband, Bev, it’s amazing that they put this thing together. They literally did it on their own. I just play a cameo in it, but it was not an easy shoot for the rest of the cast because they were literally in the woods in Atlanta. It was sort of like gorilla film-making. Dania, she was literally booking everybody’s flights. She was starring in the movie, producing the movie… she was pretty much in every frame of the movie. She is a remarkable woman. I adore her. She’s like my soul sister.

TrunkSpace: How did “Lycan” first come into your life?
Angel: Well, I knew Dania. She’s a friend of mine, so she sent me the script and said, “How would you feel about playing the professor?” It’s the kind of role that I wouldn’t normally get to play because people don’t think of me as a professor. And I really like the script and I like the fact that my character sort of opens up the movie and gives the kids the assignment to rediscover a moment in history, which leads into this adventure.

TrunkSpace: The film is about a local Georgia legend, but every town seems to have its own folklore. Do you think that makes the film relateable to people across the board?
Angel: Yeah, I think so. For me, it definitely made it more interesting that it was based on a true story. I think sometimes these kinds of films can get a little fantastical, but when they’re based in some kind of reality, it makes it much more compelling.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that people wouldn’t normally cast you as a professor, but if someone gave you a blank check to develop any kind of starring vehicle for yourself, what kind of role would it be?
Angel: Oh gosh, that’s such a good question! I would just like to play something that’s multi-layered, something like a lawyer or just somebody that’s got a lot of issues to deal with. I feel now, in my life at this point, I’m a mom and trying to navigate my career still. Just dealing with the issues that you sort of come to at mid-life, I think that it’s just very different than I thought it would be. I would just like to be able to sort of use some of the things I’m going through in my own life in a role.

I would also love to be back on a TV show. That would be incredible.

“Lycan” arrives in theaters today!

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The Featured Presentation

Rebekah Graf

Graf in Lycan

Welcome to the fourth installment of our LYCAN WEEK ongoing feature!

Opening Friday in select theaters, “Lycan” tells the story of six college kids who revisit an old Georgia legend, the strange and puzzling story of Emily Burt, the Talbot County werewolf. Based upon true historical events, the film stars relative newcomer Rebekah Graf (“Hawaii Five-0,” “Fat Camp”) as a spoiled Southern debutante who is not only unhappy about not getting her way, but we assume, werewolves!

We recently sat down with Graf to discuss showing up early for her audition, Texas ghost stories, and finding inspiration in other creative people.

TrunkSpace: How did “Lycan” and the character Blair first come into your life?
Graf: I got the audition from my manager and he was really excited about it. He loves Dania, so he was a really big fan and he loved the script. I went in and read for the casting director and Bev Land, and I loved Bev right away. I was really able to tap into the character.

I actually… funny story… I went the wrong day for the audition. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Nice!
Graf: (Laughter) I was sitting outside, and it was all guys, and I was really confused. I was there for about an hour and a half, and no one was taking me in, so I went and knocked on the door and asked the casting director. She told me I was supposed to be there the next day. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: At least you were there a day early instead of a day late!
Graf: (Laughter) Yep. It could have been the day after and that would have been way worse.

So, Bev let me audition that day. We got to talk about Blair a lot, and then the next time I came in, he talked about Georgia and told me how excited he was and how wonderful it was. Dania was there and I got to meet her and really work on the character. When I got the phone call that said that I was going to be playing Blair, I was so excited. I’d never been to Georgia and I just loved Bev and Dania right off the bat.

TrunkSpace: And where you shot in Georgia was really set away from any major population centers, right?
Graf: Yes. It was really, really beautiful. I mean, unbelievably beautiful. Just gorgeous green, wide open fields. So it was kind of the perfect setting for a group of people who didn’t know each other to become really close over the course of a couple of days because there was nothing to do but talk to each other.

TrunkSpace: It sounds like even just getting away from the set to get supplies required a journey.
Graf: Yeah, exactly. It was very much a camp setting. There were days where I wasn’t working and I would just go on set and hang out anyway. It was a blast and everyone involved was just really great.

TrunkSpace: So where does Blair fall into things in terms of the story?
Graf: Blair is a very spoiled Southern debutante. She is in college with the rest of the cast, and Blair’s very entitled. I think everything has always come pretty easily to her in life. She’s not getting what she wants when we meet Blair, for probably the first time in her life, and she is not thrilled about that. (Laughter) Dania’s character is taking something away from her, and that’s probably all I can say. She does not handle it very well.

TrunkSpace: And what’s so great about the eerie factor of “Lycan” is that it is actually based upon historical events.
Graf: Yeah, which is so cool. I told people about it and they had no idea that this existed at all. The cast and crew had no idea that this was a true story and that it was something that could actually happen. We were pretty amazed.

TrunkSpace: Did you have any local legends like that of Emily Burt where you grew up?
Graf: Yes! I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, so it’s somewhat of a small town. Not too small, but there are definitely a lot of legends. There’s a train track in San Antonio, I think, where apparently if you stop, there are children that will push you off of the train track to save you. There’s a ranch that we used to go to, and there is the Lady in the White Dress who would come out at night.

TrunkSpace: Yikes! And that’s what’s so great about the movie is that everyone who grew up in a small town can relate to the local legend angle.
Graf: Definitely. I remember us staying up really late to try to see the Lady in the White Dress. It was a rite of passage. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What did your journey look like in terms of going from dreaming of being an actress as a child to where you are today starring in “Lycan” and in other projects?
Graf: Well, I started acting when I was probably five or six years old. I had a ton of energy and my parents didn’t know what to do with me, so they put me in local theater and I loved it. I just fell in love with it and I kind of knew from that point on that it was what I wanted to do. But of course, as you grow up you try to reason with yourself. “What can I do?” Your parents try to reason with you because they want you to do well in life. Maybe they suggest being a doctor, which was never going to work out, because I faint when I see blood.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Well, good thing you’re an actress then because now you can play a doctor on TV!
Graf: (Laughter) There you go!

So, then I went to the University of Texas where I was a theater major. After that I stayed in Austin for a little while, just kind of trying to do other things, and I finally realized that acting was really all I wanted to do. So I moved out to LA and found representation and kind of never looked back.

Graf in Lycan

TrunkSpace: You went from a creative, hip community in Austin to another creative, hip community in Los Angeles. Does being around other creative people inspire you?
Graf: It definitely does. Austin has changed a lot since I left it. I think that it’s a lot more creative now. I think that there’s a lot more room and respect for artists and actors than when I was there. But yes, it is 100 percent inspiring to be surrounded by actors. My friends are all working actors and it’s incredible.

It was definitely a transition though. I mean, it’s a bigger city, but I think I was pretty lucky when I moved here. I fell into a group of amazing friends, a lot of them from Texas. It felt like home, probably, at the first year mark.

TrunkSpace: As you look forward in your career, what do you hope to achieve? Are there any items that you want to check off of your career bucket list?
Graf: Oh my goodness… I would love to do a comedy series. I really think that’s where my heart is. There are so many people that I would love to work with, I don’t even know where to begin. I just think that I have a long way to go. A lot of things to accomplish.

TrunkSpace: And you have a film called “Riptide” up next, correct?
Graf: I do. I have “Riptide” coming up, and I’m really excited about that. I think that will be a really, really wonderful cast. The director is a blast. The producers are amazing people. Yeah, that will be a really good time!

Then I recently did a Netflix original film called “#REALITYHIGH” playing Lana, a trophy wife. She’s a blast and very, very different than how I actually am in real life.

“Lycan” arrives in theaters this Friday.


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The Featured Presentation

Parker Croft

Croft in Lycan

Welcome to the third installment of our LYCAN WEEK ongoing feature!

Opening Friday in select theaters, “Lycan” tells the story of six college kids who revisit an old Georgia legend, the strange and puzzling story of Emily Burt, the Talbot County werewolf. Based upon true historical events, the film stars Parker Croft (“Big Little Lies,” “Once Upon a Time”) as a mischievous documentarian whose camera tells a portion of the thriller’s narrative.

We recently sat down with Croft to discuss how “Lycan” came into his life, the local legend embraced by his home state of Vermont, and how he’s transitioning into a new chapter of his career.

TrunkSpace: From an outside perspective, you seem to be on this great run of projects, both those that have already been released and a number that are currently in the works. Has the last few years felt a bit like a “pinch me” period in terms of where your career is going?
Croft: Yeah, this is a good time in my life, there’s no doubt about it. I’ve been really excited about directing lately. I started up a production company with my wife called Paper Horse Pictures and we’ve been directing a couple of projects and putting together a couple of projects.

We actually just got word that the first project that I directed with my wife is a semi-finalist at Los Angeles CineFest.

TrunkSpace: Congrats on that! It sounds like you’re really diversifying, which in this day and age, seems more important than ever for actors.
Croft: Yeah, it’s been very freeing to be able to make the work the way I envision it to be made, so that’s very cool.

TrunkSpace: Throughout your career as an actor, were you observing other directors and how they go about doing their job so that you could then apply that knowledge to your own directing future?
Croft: Definitely. One of my earliest projects was a project I actually put together, produced and wrote along with a director and that sort of got me rolling on the “make it yourself” style of filmmaking. And yeah, I would say I’ve been hurdling towards this in many ways for a long time, so I’m really excited to start this chapter.

TrunkSpace: There really is an exciting problem solving aspect of filmmaking that becomes addicting, right?
Croft: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s totally, totally awesome. I absolutely love a lot of the jobs that go into making a film. I’m really interested in cinematography. I’ve been doing my own editing. I’ve been doing a lot of it and I’m really having a good time with it.

TrunkSpace: So how did “Lycan” come into your life?
Croft: It’s similar to how most of the acting projects that I’ve come across, which is that it was an audition. It went well and then the project came together and here we are.

TrunkSpace: It sounds like you and “Lycan” producers Crystal Hunt and Dania Ramirez are on a bit of a similar career trajectory because they are also transitioning to putting together their own projects and making the kind of films that they have always wanted to make.
Croft: Yeah, that’s cool. Certainly when you have a little bit more of a say in the process you can see some stranger and more risky things come to fruition in a way that maybe doesn’t happen when there’s a lot of money on the table.

TrunkSpace: And where does your character Kenny fall into things?
Croft: So Kenny plays the role of… I almost want to say he’s sort of a mischievous documentarian. A bit of the footage comes from a camera that Kenny is supposed to be shooting, so some of the narrative comes through Kenny’s camera, which is kind of cool. And he’s definitely a bit of a jokester, and a bit of a wiseguy, and a bit of a party animal.

TrunkSpace: The premise is steeped in the idea of local lore and it seems like every small town in America has its own legend. Do you think that makes the film relatable on a storytelling level?
Croft: Yeah, in the way that lore sort of connects us, for sure. That would be one of the ways in which it’s relatable. For me, at least horror movies, I don’t go on that ride to empathize my human experience. I like to be spooked. I like to see something jarring or scary. Not to say that horror movies can’t do that.

TrunkSpace: “Lycan” is described as more of a suspense thriller than a horror film. In your opinion, does it still deliver on those moments of jarring or scaring the audience?
Croft: Yeah, there is certainly a handful of moments that are really jarring, for sure. I think that’s something that people go to horror movies for. I think they like to get a little shock every now and then.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in Vermont. Did you have your own local legend?
Croft: In Vermont, the closest thing we have to something that’s lore is this Loch Ness Monster thing.

TrunkSpace: You’re talking Champy!
Croft: (Laughter) Yeah, I’m talking Champy. It’s not much, but it’s a mascot at the very least.

TrunkSpace: The people of Vermont really embrace Champy.
Croft: Oh yeah, Champ is all over the place. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: “Lycan” shot on location in a very rural area of Georgia. Does shooting in seclusion… away from the big production hubs… does it help bring the cast together?
Croft: Yes, for sure, but you don’t necessarily need to be in a tent to come together. With the experience I’ve had on location, the cast bonds pretty quickly because everybody’s just got each other for the most part, and I wouldn’t say that “Lycan” was an exception. I love those guys. We got close quick.

TrunkSpace: When you’re shooting a film, particularly an indie, do you have to emotionally separate yourself from it after wrapping knowing that it could be a long time before it sees the light of day, if at all?
Croft: Oh yeah. I mean, I’ve had so many experiences where movies just didn’t even go and nothing happened. They imploded. If you’re not an integral player in every step of the process, you kind of just say goodbye to it once you finish your process. For me anyway, there are so many elements at play that I can’t control, so you think, “All right, it will come together or it won’t.” And it’s cool that this one came together, for sure. That’s no small feat for anything to come together.

TrunkSpace: As you’re now involving yourself more in the production side of things, how important is it for you to look at the ever-changing distribution landscape?
Croft: As I’ve begun the transition into making my own projects more and more, I’ve really been concentrating on different changing platforms and how they’re interacting with each other. The way that things are going, I’m actually really stoked because it seems that more and more people want original content and I’m in the business of making original content, so I have more buyers.

I think we’re entering a really cool new chapter of media because everyone can make it now.

Lycan” arrives in theaters this Friday!

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The Featured Presentation

Dania Ramirez

Ramirez in Lycan

Welcome to the second installment of our LYCAN WEEK ongoing feature!

Opening Friday in select theaters, “Lycan” tells the story of six college kids who revisit an old Georgia legend, the strange and puzzling story of Emily Burt, the Talbot County werewolf. Based upon true historical events, the film stars and is produced by Dania Ramirez (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Quarantine”) who teamed up with best friend Crystal Hunt to turn a lifelong dream into a cinematic reality.

We recently sat down with Ramirez to discuss how the film was a family affair, the cultural importance of local ghost stories, and why the 1980s did such a great job capturing an authentic and suspenseful tone in the horror projects of the time period.

TrunkSpace: Our chat is very timely because it was just announced that you’ll be playing Cinderella in “Once Upon a Time.” Is there anything with this version of the character that will be different than what we have seen of her in the past?
Ramirez: I think every time you see a different actor take on a role, you’re going to see a different take on it. As actors, we bring our own flair to things. The world that we’re setting up for this particular Cinderella will be a different kind of world. The great thing is that it’s still a love story and so essentially the aspect of the Cinderella story will still be there, but there will be different circumstances in which everything sort of happens to her. It’s kind of how the love story goes. That’s the one thing I really do love about the creators of the show, Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis, is that if you watch the show at all, you know that they are very committed to making female characters very bad ass and not damsel in distress types of characters. I think that in itself makes the Cinderella character different.

I also come from a different background with a different set of situations that I’m going to go through in the real world that are going to take my journey in a different direction. I’m also a mother, and I’m really dealing with different kinds of struggles in my life. But essentially, it’s a Cinderella story so we all want a happy ending.

TrunkSpace: Between “Once Upon a Time” and “Lycan” also due to be released, it seems to be a bit more of a happy beginning for you in terms of a new chapter in your life and career?
Ramirez: It’s been such an incredible journey in my life. For me, the journey with “Lycan” does feel kind of like a Cinderella story because I started my journey in the Dominican Republic in a very, very humble background just dreaming of something better. Coming to the States as an immigrant, figuring out the language, and then finally getting into the world of entertainment has been a journey within itself. I remember just at a very young age being in my acting class. That’s where Crystal Hunt and I met, who is one of the “Lycan” executive producers. We made a pact back then. We said, “Hey, one day we’re going to make it. We’re going to produce our own films.”

And we’re making it a family affair. My husband, Bev Land, wrote and directed it. His brother, Donnie Land, is one of the producers. Crystal’s mom really came in and helped us out a lot. It does feel like a fairy tale to be done with the film and then right before the film premieres, be able to get this role in “Once Upon a Time.” The journey feels like we’re writing our own happy ending. That’s kind of cool.

TrunkSpace: And from a work standpoint, it must have a special feeling attached to it when you’re so emotionally invested in a project?
Ramirez: I think every time I work on something it feels really special, but this particular project was our baby. I was pregnant when my husband was writing it. It’s interesting because I had just given birth about four months prior to starting pre-production for the film and then we started shooting about a month later. The hard work that it takes to really get something off the ground, and that persistence and work ethic to make an independent film work, it’s just really about not giving up. Every time something comes up, it’s being able to just tackle it and say, “Hey, we’re going to get this done! That’s talking from the pre-production aspect of it to actually shooting it, which by the way, we shot it in 13 days.

TrunkSpace: Wow!
Ramirez: I know. It’s insane.

TrunkSpace: Having just given birth a few months prior to production, how did you find the time and energy to both star in and produce the film?
Ramirez: My motto is that I’ll rest when I’m dead. For right now, if I have an opportunity to make something happen, I will. I’m just a hard worker and I’ve always had that work ethic in my life. Again, I come from a different kind of background. The way I see it is, I have nowhere to go but up. I just dedicate my life to doing something that I love. Being able to touch the masses with a story and have people relate to it, it’s a gift. I see it that way. Whenever I wanted to just take a nap in the middle of the day, I just thought, “No, we have something that we have to do!” We just kept trucking.

TrunkSpace: And you shot in Georgia, right?
Ramirez: My husband’s mom was amazing and let us use her entire land. She has acres of land in Columbus, GA near Talbot County, which is where the Emily Burt legend started. That’s how we ended up finding out about the legend of Emily Burt.

TrunkSpace: Did shooting an indie film in such a secluded location force you to think outside of the box from a production standpoint?
Ramirez: I remember at one point we didn’t have enough money to rent lights. Somebody said, “One of our guys knows how to build lights. If we just buy the parts and ship them in from China, we can build our own lights.” That’s what we did.

All these little challenges kept coming up. We just trucked on and made it happen. It’s really beautiful to be able to do that. That’s also what I want in my life, to inspire and show people that, “Hey, you can do it! Just say that you’re going to do it and don’t stop!”

Ramirez with director Bev Land on the set of Lycan

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how your husband grew up around the area where the legend of Emily Burt first took shape. Did you have any local legends or ghost stories in the area where you grew up in the Dominican Republic?
Ramirez: In the Dominican Republic, especially where I grew up, we didn’t have much electricity, so we didn’t have TV. I didn’t even grow up watching television. I think I started watching television around the age of 5. So yeah, there are always legends when you’re growing up in a remote area like that, because that’s what people talk about. “So and so died and she was there and the spirit went inside her.” I grew up listening to ghost stories like that my whole life.

I’ve always been fascinated by the horror genre. The one great thing about “Lycan” that I really responded to was the fact that it was based on something that people knew about. You can research it online. The way I see it, “Lycan” is more of a Hitchcockian suspense thriller. It’s something that you can look up and inquire about. It feels a little more scary if you know that it is something that actually happened to real people.

TrunkSpace: They always say that something needs to be grounded in reality to connect with an audience and what better way to ground it in reality than with actual reality!
Ramirez: That’s what I mean. My husband, as a writer and as a director, is interested in those kinds of stories more than anything. He has an incredible mind. He was able to take this legend and then write a story around it. We kind of made it a little more interesting because we really wanted to put a face to the disease of lycanthropy. That’s what makes it a little more interesting than just the legend, the fact that lycanthropy is a disease that to this day is misdiagnosed as schizophrenia and is something that still occurs.

TrunkSpace: And that’s when people believe they are wolves?
Ramirez: Yeah, it’s when people believe they’re turning into wolves and believe that the hair is growing out of their faces and that they’re transforming. We wanted to really bring light to that disease as well as talk about this legend.

Ramirez as Cinderella in Once Upon a Time

TrunkSpace: And in addition to all of that, it’s also a period film.
Ramirez: Yeah, our film takes place in the 1980s, which I love because I grew up watching those kinds of movies. The temperament of the film also has that old school feel to it as a suspense story, so that’s really cool. I do think that the 80s had a sensibility to the take on a horror film that I really enjoyed. It felt pure and youthful, but really interesting. I grew up and I was a teenager in the 80s, so for me it was really good to kind of go back and reminisce on all of that and watch all of the movies and see their take on all that stuff.

TrunkSpace: Even the poster has that great throwback feel to it.
Ramirez: Yeah, the 80s sensibility is great because, I believe, films have taken such a science fiction turn. As far as feeling that eerie suspense, I’ve always liked the tone of the way the 80s films were made, especially the idea of a bunch of young kids in the middle of the woods. There’s something really authentic about that. We wanted to really tap into that and bring that back. Even the look of it and the feel of it has that vibe and makes it a little different than other films that are coming out today.

That’s why I really loved tapping into the disease as well, because it’s more of a human psychosis film than it is a jumpy horror film. That’s what makes it not only authentic, but I feel, way more scary than just watching a movie where you’re fascinated by the effects.

TrunkSpace: As you look back over your first producing experience, is there anything that you would have done differently, either to make your own life easier as the producer or for the production as a whole to run more smoothly?
Ramirez: It was really challenging to do it independently and to do it for no money. As a producer and as a creative entity, if you ever finish a project and feel like you’re completely satisfied and that there’s nothing that you wouldn’t change, then you have stopped your mind creatively. There are always things that you’re going to end up, after the project, saying, “Oh man, I wish I did…” Not everything is going to be 100 percent exactly what you thought it was going to be.

The great part about this project is that there are things that I didn’t expect that came out even better than I thought and that’s a testament to the people that were a part of it. Not just in front of the camera either, but the people who really fought and worked in the trenches with us making sure that even after we shot the film that the look of it was great and that the color was perfect.

Lycan” arrives in theaters this Friday!

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The Featured Presentation

Crystal Hunt


Welcome to the first installment of our LYCAN WEEK ongoing feature!

Opening Friday in select theaters, “Lycan” tells the story of six college kids who revisit an old Georgia legend, the strange and puzzling story of Emily Burt, the Talbot County werewolf. Based upon true historical events, the film is the first producing effort of Crystal Hunt (“Magic Mike XXL,” “One Life to Live”) who teamed up with best friend Dania Ramirez to turn a lifelong dream into a cinematic reality.

We recently sat down with Hunt to discuss production speed bumps, the difficulties of shooting a period piece, and why “Lycan” is so much more than a suspense thriller.

TrunkSpace: “Lycan” is your first experience producing a feature film. What was it like for you as a whole and what did you learn when all was said and done?
Hunt: I gave it my best try. Dania and I have said ever since we were kids that one day, once we started working and had everything rolling, that we were gonna start making our own movies. So we kind of stayed true to that. There were definitely some more difficult things along the way that were just little speed bumps, but they were just that, speed bumps. You learn from every little one. Nothing was actually catastrophic. There are some different facets of it that you don’t really see as much of when you’re on the other side.

TrunkSpace: Dealing with the speed bumps seem to be the part that a lot producers love. Would you say that putting out the fires becomes sort of addicting?
Hunt: I’m a planner so for me, getting everything organized and in order so that everything runs smoothly… I get such pride off of that because I knew I had everything in order and planned out so well. Putting out fires is fine. I don’t mind it at all because I feel like… I’m from a big family, so I feel like it’s kind of a normal thing. I think the only thing that we were noticing was that because we shot in the middle of nowhere, if we did need something, we were like, “Oh crap, we forgot to get that!” And it’s a big deal to get to the nearest Walmart, which was the closest thing.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) But in order to move forward with the production, you need that thing you’re missing so traveling to the Walmart becomes a necessary evil.
Hunt: Absolutely. We were in the middle of 5,000 acres and that 5,000 acres was also in the middle of nowhere. So once you go through the gates of the 5,000 acres, it’s still a trek once you get there. And Walmart was definitely the nearest thing, so you had to find anything and everything you needed there.

TrunkSpace: And what’s interesting is that the story of the film takes place in the 1980s, so you’re adding an entirely different layer of complications to your first producing endeavor in terms of making sure the physical look of it is accurate.
Hunt: Yeah, it was also wardrobe too. It was trying to make sure that everybody kept in the theme of the period. But also, even with the lighting because there’s so many different types of lighting we had to use to get the correct feel. Something that you would think might appear to be the correct period can look completely different once you actually see it on the feed with the lighting. It’s like you’re constantly making adjustments.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how you and Dania always wanted to make your own movies. Was this genre always part of the plan?
Hunt: I think that Dania and I both love suspense movies and I don’t know of anybody really who doesn’t, unless they have bad cardiac issues and they just can’t watch them because of health reasons. I think everybody likes suspense movies.

It was about making a suspense movie that’s actually based upon a true story and not just a, “Boo!” with somebody creeping around the corner and scaring you type of thing. It’s not campy in that way. It’s actually not at all what you would think it would be. It’s all a very true story based upon actual events.

TrunkSpace: It’s one of those stories that’s been told and retold amongst groups of friends who grew up in the area it took place, right?
Hunt: My best friend’s husband… he’s actually from right near where the real thing happened, so it is a story he grew up hearing all the time as a kid. The real lady, Emily Isabella Burt, she is actually buried right down the street from where he grew up and where his mom still lives.

TrunkSpace: Did you tap into those personal ties to the story and the area to get an inside perspective?
Hunt: Oh heck yeah! Absolutely! Anything we could find on her.

I was flying back and forth because I was working on two different projects, but it seemed like any time any of us were at a standstill and able to connect to Wi-Fi, we were emailing each other new things that we found on the Burt family. Anything more we could add, we’d just create a file with every single possible thing we could come across that pertained to the girl and her family.

TrunkSpace: Because the film is based on a true story with real people at its core, did you have to take a careful approach with how you presented them?
Hunt: I don’t know if it’s careful. As an actor, we all love to tell stories. Nobody wants to tell stories inaccurately. Even if it’s not a true story, you want to make sure that you’re portraying exactly what the writer had in mind and that you’re clear on what their vision was for the character. But, because “Lycan” is a true story, we didn’t want to come out with a bag on our face. We wanted to make sure that we covered every base and if there was ever any lingering question, we did our best to try to get that answered. I don’t think it was that we didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. It was more of finding out more and more details because it made it so much more exciting.

On the set of Lycan

TrunkSpace: And like they say, sometimes the most exciting storytelling is the real-life stuff because there are just some things that you can’t make up.
Hunt: Exactly. That’s my point. We were equally as curious and excited to find out so many more different things here and there. Yeah, absolutely… you can’t make it up.

TrunkSpace: Do you view the film as a horror film?
Hunt: We call it a suspense thriller. It’s not just a scary movie. Yes, it’s labeled a suspense thriller because of some of the things you’ll see in it, but it’s really not that. Everything you’re seeing is not something just made to be spooky or to get people scared. The entire thing spawned from a mental illness that was very real in North America until the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, but is still prevalent in Central and South America today. I can’t even fathom what it must be like to have something like that in your family or in your life. Once people know that it’s completely based on that, I think that they’ll see it from a different angle because it’s not just another scary movie that’s released in the fall.

TrunkSpace: The film is due out this week. What do you want people to take from it?
Hunt: I hope they like all of the choices and all of the things we did with it, but I also really hope that they walk away from it equally as excited as we were to delve into more research on this mental illness and the girl that the film is based upon. I can’t fathom them not Googling it on their phone, even in the theater, let alone when they’re walking out. I hope they get equally as curious and excited about the subject of the film as we did because that’s the reason why it all came to be.

TrunkSpace: You chose not to star in “Lycan.” As you look to produce more projects in the future, will you stay behind the scenes or do you see a situation where you’ll pull double duty and act in a project that you’re also producing?
Hunt: I definitely will. I just think that on both my behalf and Dania’s, we both really realized how important it was to stay focused, especially with all the last minute things and all of the things that happen in the couple of days before you begin production, and even on the first day. There’s so many things you’d never plan for that happen.

We definitely know moving forward that we need to have someone, if I’m going to be acting in it as well, that we can trust to make sure that all of those fires are put out and that everything is handled and handled correctly. Because I gotta tell you, those things are bound to happen and there’s no way to focus on a character with all of those fires having to be put out as well.

Lycan” arrives in theaters this Friday!

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