Many upcoming directors dream about having their film’s premiere at South By Southwest first It is one of the biggest film festivals that take place in Austin, Texas. This year the event falls on March 11 to 20. To our great pleasure, many horror movies come out of this film festival. One such horror film being premiered at SXSW is “Jack Goes Home” will be featured at the festival and has a handful of stars in it. The movie stars Lin Shaye (“Insidious” series, “Ouija” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street”), Rory Culkin (“Signs” and “Scream 4”), Nikki Reed (“Thirteen” and “Twilight” series), Britt Robertson (“Scream 4”, “The Secret Circle” and “The Longest Ride”), Daveigh Chase (“Donnie Darko” and “The Ring”) and Natasha Lyonne (Yes, you all know her from Orange is the New Black.)
The film’s summary is as follows, taken from Yale Production’s site: “Jack is an educated and well versed magazine editor living in Los Angeles. He is in his mid 20s, engaged and expecting his first child. Grappling with the natural release of his childhood and the promise of his forthcoming adulthood, he is hit hard by the news of his father’s death. In a violent and horrific car crash, his father has perished while his mother has survived. He returns to his hometown of Denver, Colorado to nurse his mother through her physical and emotional injuries. During his stay at home, he uncovers long buried secrets and lies within his family history, his parents, his friends and his very identity. Jack’s journey to the truth is fueled by madness, sexuality, hauntings and violence. For Jack, there truly is NO PLACE LIKE HOME.”
But how did this crazy thriller come about? Yale Productions and “Jack Goes Home” director Thomas Dekker teamed up to make this small project turn into something huge. Jordan Yale Levine and Scott Levenson are the producers of “Jack Goes Home” and are company partners for Yale Productions.
Levine has had Yale Productions for around six years. He executed produced a horror film called “Tooth and Nail” which was part of the “After Dark Films: 8 Films to Die For.” He has since done many films like “Black Limousine,” “Petunia” and upcoming film that Levine and Levenson both produced, “King Cobra” starring James Franco. Levenson worked with HBO and CAA (Creative Artists Agency) him and Levine have been childhood friends with big dreams.
The director of this film is no stranger to the horror genre. Dekker has starred in many movies like “Village of the Damned,” (where he played the incredibly creepy little boy, David, that terrified us all,) “Laid to Rest,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (the remake) and “Fear Clinic.” Dekker grew up with a huge respect to the horror genre. He grew up with legends John Carpenter and Clive Barker and they taught him how it is to tell a very human story in a very inhuman way. “I came to it with a respect for sorta the slow burn horror and actually telling a story that is emotional, truthful, realistic, sad and painful. While not forgetting how to scare the shit out of people,” Dekker said, “I really do genuinely believe that horror films and thrillers they are the best to evoke intense emotions and that is what this movie was. I never set out to sorta say how can I make an easy movie with lots of scares and make money?”
Dekker said the main inspiration behind “Jack Goes Home” was losing his father in 2010 from Alzheimer’s. “My father meant everything to me and was my world, my universe, my idol, my love and everything else,” Dekker said, “When I lost him I remember thinking there was kind of this interesting story about somebody being so young and losing their parents. Also the struggle that comes with maintaining a relationship with your other parents whether it would be your mother or your father or whatever. I wanted to make a story about it. I wanted to make a film about it.” The film came at a very fast pace and Dekker buckled down and wrote the film in three weeks and then in just two months they were in the process of making it.
Levenson and Levine soon were on board with the idea. “Thomas and I have been friends quite a while and he’s always looking to direct. He is a fantastic writer. I read a lot of his material and he sent me “Jack Goes Home” and you know, we just fell in love with it,” Levenson said, “We kinda just went at it full force.” They put everything else aside to get the ball rolling. Levine stated that the three friends put everything they had into getting this film off the ground. Within two to three months they were already up in production. “Thomas being such a well respected actor and friend and person in general. He brought some of his friends on board like Robertson and Reed. Lin Shaye has been a friend of mine for many years and of course she just came at the time from the hot “Insidious 3” and she fell in love with the script as well,” Levine said.
Levenson knew right away that “Jack Goes Home” was going to be worth the leap of faith. He even quoted that coming on as a producer was a magical experience. “Just being there and supporting one of the next great, visionary directors, there is no other feeling in the world to kinda find a director you believe in then seeing them actually live their dream and watching their film get into SXSW and seeing how happy he is. You know being able to connect with his core audience we are just very blessed about the whole thing,” Levenson said.
The three of them actually found out that “Jack Goes Home” was going to be apart of SXSW when they were working on another movie called “Welcome to Willits” but Dekker found out in a bit harder way. “Jordan got the news first because he was the point contact for SXSW and the minute we got the news. We were just kinda like so excited and Thomas was away from us at the moment,” Levenson said, “So we called him on his cell phone and you know it was kinda funny as a joke I kinda played this little trick on him. It sounds a bit cruel but it was really funny. We were just kinda saying ‘Thomas, you did a terrible job. The feedback has been terrible and I guess the people at SXSW kinda liked it so I guess we got in there’ and he just flipped out.”
Even when “Jack Goes Home” was finished the cast and crew of “Welcome to Willits” was very excited about the film being premiered at SXSW. “Thomas was an actor in the film. So maybe after a couple of days after we told him the news about SXSW. He was already out there with us. Well beside the crew, we like to work with the same actors as well. Like Rory Culkin was in “Welcome to Willits” as well. We had Garret Clayton who starred in our movie “King Cobra”” Levine said, “All these guys knew each other and they are all friends and we are a big extended family but because everyone knows and loves Thomas and was excited about him and us and “Jack Goes Home.” We actually had a screening of “Jack Goes Home” during “Welcome to Willits” at the hotel and that was really fun to do. So it was kinda our pre-premier.”
Being an actor and director are two very different things. Dekker has been an actor since six years old but directing opened up his eyes to much bigger things. “To be honest, it bit me in the ass because it made me never want to act again because to direct is where I feel at home,” Dekker said. It felt like a surreal moment from Dekker as the date got closer to shooting. In Dekker’s past experience with directing smaller projects he had around 10 crew members on set and he and a friend would go out of pocket to get past films done. “I remember being really concerned that I was going to kinda nervously lose my mind when we started. It was very interesting. The second I got on the set I felt like I’ve been directing my whole life,” Dekker said, “It really was a feeling of comfort and ease and I don’t know if it was because the film was so personal or what but it sorta felt like ‘Okay, I’m where I need to be. I’m going to make this movie and that is that.’ I will say it was really interesting working with the actors because although this film is a “horror” film or a thriller. It really is also a dramatic character piece and what the actors have to go through is incredibly intense and very jarring and very uncomfortable and I think it is odd as a director all I really care about is how it looks, how it feels, how it sounds and all the technical aspects.” Dekker also was thankful for the fact that he has been an actor for so long because he was able to communicate with the actors on set and still be a director. “That allowed me to play with the cast of the movie a lot. Especially Rory. Rory obviously carries the film. We definitely grew a very intense bond and since then we are still very good friends,” Dekker said.
One thing that is rather interesting about this film is Dekker has actually worked with the actors and actresses in the film before with the exception of Rory and Lin. During the process of casting, he turned to friends by asking them to be in the film. “It was a very scary dangerous sort of process because I felt very safe with everyone else being like ‘Okay, I worked with Daveigh, I worked with Britt, I’ve worked with Nikki, worked with Louis, and I know how they operate and I know how they go about working. It was just to my good fortune that Rory read the script,” Dekker said, “He was the first person that I went to. He was who I wanted from the very beginning and he liked it and we spoke and with Lin it was a kind of a different challenge because I didn’t know if I wanted to make the mother a realistic age or a younger kind of unrealistic age. Lin got ahold of the script and I obviously have been a huge fan of hers for a long time and she came fourth with this kind of passion about playing this role.”
“This was such a passion project. I didn’t make a penny off of it. That wasn’t at all what it was about. But it was about really making what I want to make and regardless as a filmmaker if I can’t be in control of what people think of it,” Dekker said,“It’s a dangerously edge film and quite a controversial film so I can’t really think in advance ‘Okay, people will like this and they won’t like that.’ All I can really do from the start is make a film that I believed in and I have to say in the finish product that I am thrilled.”
Levenson and Levine both have many upcoming projects. They will be producing a “black metal horror” film called “We Do Not Exist.” Jesse Korman and he was a singer of a metal band called Number 12 will also be partnering up with Yale Productions for “We Do Not Exist.” The script was written by Jon Keeyes and he was a co-producer on “Jack Goes Home” as well.
But does Dekker see more directing his future than acting? Dekker has gone from actor, musician, writer and now director. But Dekker’s goal was ultimately being a director. “I think it is weird when you have a dream even if you’re doing other good things. I’m very happy to been an actor for so long but to get to direct it definitely shifted. It’s odd because now that I proven that dream to be a reality you really don’t want to do that anymore,” Dekker said.
“Jack Goes Home” will premier at SXSW on Monday, March 14 and part of the “Midnighters.” Details can be found on SXSW schedule site.
Watch an EXCLUSIVE clip of “Jack Goes Home” below: