Accomplished Commercial Director Michael Chaves, discusses his dark tale of Real Estate.
Michael Chaves was already a busy man, but the birth of his second child, and the release of his first feature short The Maiden on the same day, can only be an omen of a busier future.
Director of commercials by day, making a feature short for Michael Chaves was a natural evolution. After all, shooting a commercial requires you to tell an entire story in one minute. Fitting me on for a chat took some time, but it was worth the wait.
What inspired you to write a horror script?
Michael Chaves: I consider horror the purest form of cinema. It relies on being able to completely suspend the viewer’s disbelief. When it’s done right, the effects are both chilling and thrilling.
Why did you choose the concept of The Maiden?
Michael Chaves: I wanted to do a horror story about the archetypal haunted house. The idea of a Real Estate agent, desperate to make a sale, gave me a solid foundation for that. We shot on location at the famous Beckett Mansion in Los Angeles. The mansion is declared officially uninhabitable, so the setting had a built-in haunted feeling.
Tell us about the Real Estate Agent.
Michael Chaves: I wanted it to be a female agent, someone who is being pushed to the edge, struggling for her commission. My wife Dina Buglione, did the casting. We held an old-fashioned casting call. Alia Raelynn was our first choice. Her audition gave us the dangerous and frightfully scary feeling we were hoping for. After she discovers there is a demonic presence in the house, she decides to go forward with the sale anyway. The powerful force seems to be working against her, making things more and more dangerous as she gets closer and closer to making the sale. She knows the house is filled with evil, but she can’t stop herself from wanting to make the sale.
What was it like working with the wonderful Penny Orloff, star of her own solo show ‘Jewish Thighs on Broadway’?
Michael Chaves: The entire cast was wonderful to work with. We really had a good time. Penny Orloff was the consummate professional, automatically raising the bar and putting everyone at ease. We have two young girls performing in the film, Sunnie Pelant and Betsy Sligh. We didn’t want them to be uncomfortable or afraid. Penny was a wonderfully supportive, and helped to make it a fun experience. Brian Knudson plays the father and purchaser of the mysterious home.
Was this shot for CGI? How did you pull off your special effects?
Michael Chaves: Tristan Nyby, my high school best friend, was the Director of Photography. Our goal was to make it believable, to have it anchored in reality, so we chose to use mostly natural light. The architecture of the interior provided very interesting light. We used some photo shop and a special Adobe program called After Effects. We used a green screen, and on occasion a box with a string, for the flying scenes.
You can watch the film here:
Michael Chaves is currently working on a full feature treatment of The Maiden.
Penny Orloff’s novel, Jewish Thighs on Broadway, is available at Amazon.com.
Watch for Penny’s new solo show, Songs and Stories from the Not-So Kosher Life.
Brian Knudson can be seen as the rude Dad in the music video for the mega-hit ‘Rude’, by Magic, and int Magic’s latest single, Sunday Funday.
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