A mysterious box contains a little creature which terrorizes the box’s owners in the Made-in-Oklahoma movie, Gremlin. It’s the latest movie to be released by Ryan Bellgardt, who previously made Army of Frankensteins. The film made its debut at deadCenter and is now available to buy. But first, get to know the movie with Ryan Bellgardt, Adam Hampton, and Kristy K. Boone in this week’s Creator Conversation feature.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role with Gremlin.
RYAN: I’m Ryan Bellgardt, an Oklahoma based filmmaker and President of Boiling Point Media, an award winning advertising agency and production house in Oklahoma City. I’m the writer and director of Gremlin, the second feature film produced by our team of very talented people.
ADAM: My name is Adam Hampton and I’m an independent filmmaker out of Shawnee. I act, write, direct and I’m a member of Outsiders Productions, my production company that made Rough Cut and The Unusual (Calling of) Charlie Christmas.
Ryan and I have been friends for many years and we bonded further on the festival circuit while he and his team – also my friends – were screening Army of Frankensteins. When he approached me to be a part of Gremlin – initially it was going to be a short piece with a different title – I jumped at the chance to work with these guys. They’re a talented, hard-working, skillful team and they’re also really great guys. The kind of people that I like to be around and work with.
So I was honored to be brought on as an actor. I think Ryan and I share a lot of mutual respect that leads us both to lose our egos at the door and focus on the story we are trying to tell. That makes the challenge of the process even more exciting.
KRISTY: I am a resident here in Oklahoma City, and have been performing improv, writing, and doing commercial/film work for the past four years. My role with gremlin is Julie, the wife of Adam Thatcher. She’s grieving losses and beginning to disconnect from sound judgment and choices.
What five words would you use to describe the film?
RYAN: Dark. Creepy. Unsettling. Emotional. Surprising.
ADAM: Dark. Moody. Tension. Psychological onslaught.
KRISTY: A delightful b-rated horror film!
What is Gremlin about?
RYAN: The story revolves around Adam Thatcher (Adam Hampton), a man who comes into possession of a cursed box containing a creature that will kill everyone he cares about. The only way for him to pass the curse along is to give the box to someone he truly loves. The plot centers around this man desperately trying to save the people he loves.
ADAM: Gremlin is a scary story of a broken family cursed with a supernatural box and the mystery within.
KRISTY: Shockingly it is really about a family falling apart, and there just happens to be a monster causing even more issues.
What got you interested in making movies?
RYAN: I’ve always loved creating things. I like telling stories and writing music, and I’ve done video production on a professional level for a while. I think it wasn’t until I went to the deadCenter film festival in 2010 that I was inspired to make movies. I saw a director doing a Q&A after his movie screened and I thought, “That’s going to be me. I’m going to do that.” A few years later, I watched Wolf Head, a great movie that was made locally on a small budget. I started to see what was possible to do here.
ADAM: I’ve been in love with movies since I was a child. They still make me feel like a kid. Even knowing what happens behind the curtain, what work is required, I find the process magical. Movies help us see who we are, who we want to be.
KRISTY: Improvised theatre. I had been taking an occasional class and performing with OKC Improv Touring Company for nearly a year, when I was recruited to be part of an improvised play cast. There was no turning back after that. A friend scouted me at a show and told me to sign with an agent, and everything else has escalated from there.
If you had a self-titled album, use only seven words to describe your album.
RYAN: Songs about falling down and getting up.
ADAM: I guess if I had a self-titled album, I’d describe it as:
KRISTY: Capturing the world, functioning in controlled chaos.
What was the greatest challenge you overcame in this production?
RYAN: Overall, it was the speed in which we had to produce the entire project. It was written in January 2016. We were shooting in March and editing in April. We worked up until the end of October on post sound, visual effects, and color correction. It was a very fast turn around and pushed our small team to its limits.
ADAM: I think the greatest challenge for this production – for me – was trying to make such an unloveable character – hopefully – loveable. Adam is a broken man with a lot of regret and he’s made a lot of mistakes and he’s lost. He’s cheating on his wife and he’s distant from his kids; he’s a mess and he’s not a good person. But through the struggles of the film, he comes to realize what he has become and I think he truly changes. He’s a selfish character that becomes willing to sacrifice himself. That was fun to portray.
KRISTY: Great question. There is a heavy scene the director had my character doing. It was a challenge to let myself delve deeply enough into the moment to not let the scene seem flippant and unweighted.
What was the scariest thing that happened to you during the making of the movie?
RYAN: Nothing was too scary, but I was afraid that the owners of the Grandison Inn would kick us out after we set off their fire alarm at 3 am with our hazer.
ADAM: Scariest thing? Hmmm. We shot in some pretty spooky locations that really added to the mood of the film. While I wouldn’t describe them as scary, I will say they added to the creep factor on set.
KRISTY: The scariest thing was someone’s car being stolen from the driveway directly outside where we filmed a majority of the movie.
What did you enjoy about making the movie?
RYAN: I enjoy the entire process, but I think what I enjoy the most is seeing the vision finally come to life. I really value the input of my cast and crew. Making a movie is truly a collaborative art form and it’s really amazing when all the pieces come together.
ADAM: I love this team. These guys are good-hearted, sharp-minded people. Imaginative and supportive. Working on a set like this really does make friendships forged in some difficult times. Making a movie is hard work; it’s a beautiful thing to get to the other side of it with a team of people you respect.
KRISTY: Definitely the cast and crew dynamic. We became a close-knit group, based on it being such a small team, and us spending long and exhausting days together.
What advice do you have for other filmmakers?
“Surround yourself with people you trust, who are better than you, and listen to them.”RYAN: Surround yourself with people you trust, who are better than you, and listen to them.
ADAM: Don’t quit. And if you’re gonna quit, you shoulda done it yesterday.
Keep working. Then work harder. It’s not a halfway thing, chasing a dream.
Occasionally, stop talking and listen. Because you want to be in a room where everyone is smarter than you.
KRISTY: I’ve only been involved in the making of a couple of films, but look forward to making several in the future. From my observations of my friends, who are doing well making films, my advice would be to stay with genres and story lines you love. Honor your natural talent, refine that, then move forward with great fervor. If you are a writer and/or director, seek feedback from several sources, and implement it into your writing and directing techniques. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness!
What’s some beauty seldom seen in Oklahoma?
RYAN: We wrapped filming our third feature film The Jurassic Games just a few months ago and we shot in some really beautiful places. Robbers Cave is spectacular. We found so much diversity there. The Gloss Mountains looks like a mash up of Mars and the Old West. I can remember really being in awe when I saw nothing but 70-foot sand dunes surrounding me in Little Sahara. It was like I was standing on Tatooine. Well, those locations aren’t exactly hospitable or easily accessible except for avid fans of the outdoors. Luckily, you can see them from the comfort of your own home in Jurassic Games (Coming in 2018)!
ADAM: I’m in love with Oklahoma. This place is magic. Don’t get me started.
KRISTY: I’m in love with Quartz Mountains. The Price Tower in Bartlesville is a beautiful must-see, along with Echo Canyon Spa Resort in Sulphur. Here in OKC, Martin Nature Park, and the grounds behind Western Heritage Museum are both fantastic.
It is fun to experience everything our state has to offer. There is so much history and beauty to be found. Experiencing it makes for great adventures and future stories…and possibly future films!
Why should one see the movie?
ADAM: I think folks should watch this if they like Stephen King short stories; that’s what the script felt like. I think they should watch it if they like 80’s horror flicks or monster movies. They’ll dig it and have a few minutes of not being preoccupied with their own inevitable impending doom.
KRISTY: The Six Stitches team also created Army of Frankensteins, and the upcoming Jurassic Games. These guys work well together, Bellgardt is an engaging writer, and the movie progresses forward nicely. Plus, you would be supporting Oklahoma artists in film! Also, it’s fun to watch Adam clear fences and run a lot. Ha.
Anything else you want to say or let people know?
RYAN: Thank you and everyone else in the Oklahoma Film Community that has been so supportive and receptive to our work!
ADAM: Thank you!!!!
KRISTY: Perhaps only to take time and encourage those around you, as well as yourself, to live life passionately. We are here for a finite amount of time, so let’s put as much good into the world, as we possibly can.