Jody Wheeler needs no introduction; he is an award-winning writer/produced from Los Angeles. While doing his graduation from University of California, he won Carl David Screenwriting award for two years straight. He entered Hollywood by writing and producing “Inside/ Outside the Beltway” which won multiple awards and was also recognized by GLAAD. He has a written a number of scripts, directed and produced several short films including “In the closet” which was nominated for IRIS Award “Judas Kiss” was co-produced by Jody. The movie went onto becoming a hit and was even called one of the top 100 gay films of all time.
We caught up with Cthulhu Crush’s Jody Wheeler and Steve Parker to discuss their latest film, The Dark Place – which is now available on VOD and DVD.
How did you both meet?
We met on the set of JUDAS KISS, an earlier film we both produced. For a variety of reasons, we liked working together during the making of JUDAS KISS and after that film was done, we were set about for creating our own firm.
What was it that brought you together originally?
Nothing that grand or metaphysical. We both liked the way the other solved problems. We had similar approaches to getting problems resolved. We wanted more of that in our work environment. That and a sense of mutual respect, we felt, best make for a good working relationship. Thus, our plan for global domination was born.
Did you both always intend to get into movie-making?
I think we both dreamed about it, but we both had prior careers. Steve is an electrical engineer / computer scientist and I was a counselor and social worker. Both of us made films, wrote stories and always aspired to start film-making. When the opportunities lined up, it allowed us to pursue our passion.
How did you pitch The Dark Place to your investors?
Steve found a lot of funding for THE DARK PLACE. He worked hard enough to get funding in place. We’d developed a pitch document and financial information to share with “qualified investors” as they say. Plus, JUDAS KISS, the prior film we both worked on, was both well-made and well received. It all helped in making THE DARK PLACE possible.
What would you say the tone of the movie is?
Darkly funny. Keegan is sharp wit. Because of his gifts, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly — and to Keegan, most people are fools. Of course, the closest people in Keegan’s life don’t suffer his foolishness gladly. They give as they get. Among the main characters, you can see there’s lots of love. Through the near-impossible situations they find themselves in make for interesting expressions of that love!
Would you say it’s more a thriller than anything else?
Very much so. It’s a deliberate build to the middle of the movie. Like climbing a roller-coaster or walking up a hill to ski down the other side. From the middle on, the film moves at a breakneck speed, with the last act having folks on the edge of their seats, wondering how Keegan is going to get out of his predicament.
If you had to name two movies you think this resembles what would they be?
There’s a “House of Glass” vibe to the movie. Also, Sherlock, from the BBC, was a big influence on the final script and the production.
Did you guys ever consider acting in it yourselves?
I act normal every day. That seems to be enough. Pretty sure Steve feels the same way.
How did you find your lead? He’s great!
Emergency Casting call! We had a prior lead who dropped out shortly before filming. There was a bit of despair that we wouldn’t find anyone as good. Out of the blue, Blaise walked in. He was better than who we had before. He nailed the snark, pathos, and pain of the hero. There’s no one else I can see as Keegan now.
The film is available on both DVD and VOD. Are you fans of VOD yet? Or still prefer a physical DVD?
I’ve become a VOD convert. While I do miss walking home with a physical copy (or getting it in the mail), I love pressing a button and having my films available anywhere, on any device.
What movies do you guys enjoy? Is there anything you’re looking forward to?
I’m a big sci-fi and horror fan. Main stuff that I watch. Mysteries and thrillers, surprisingly enough, I consider to be pseudo-versions of sci-fi and horror films. Mysteries involve big ideas like sci-fi movies do, and thrillers are horror films without a lot of human monsters. Steve enjoys sci-fi and mysteries. He leans, though, more to dramas, especially layered and complex tales with nuanced characters and sharp presentation. I don’t mind those, provided there’s mass death towards the end.
And is there a new movie on the cards for you guys?
Yes. We’re in the middle of funding a horror-comedy at the moment. And we also optioned a sci-fi book for TV. It’s being shopped and developed right now. With luck, we’ll have news to report on both in the first part of 2016.