One locally created indie film is looking to capture a national audience with its unique tone and back story. That film with a colorful background is Meet Me There, a hybrid flick of horror and suspense about a young couple taking a trip to a rural Oklahoma in order for a young woman to reconnect with her troubled past, resulting in nightmarish scenes while reconnecting with repressed memories.
Featuring a cast of improv comics, a wrestling legend, and a beloved comic book artists, Meet Me There has a hell of a story to tell.
Set for its world premiere in New Orleans on April 4, director Lex Lybrand of Greenless Studios and writer Brandon Stroud of WithLeather.com spoke with CultureMap to discuss the unique story behind a unique film.
“If there were still Blockbusters, I think it would fit in the horror section,” says Lybrand, “but I feel it could fit in a couple different places, but it’s a bit more horror than suspense because it’s quasi-supernatural.”
But there are still plenty of elements in Meet Me There that draw from real life. For instance, the lead character, Ada, is suffering from nightmares and emotional trauma from her childhood home. “This is all based on real stories,” says Stroud, who wrote the screenplay with Destiny Talley. “Or it’s one of [Talley's] nightmares based on the fact that she can’t remember anything from her childhood.”
“I wanted to just write a throwaway horror move,” says Stroud, “and about halfway through it I realized that I could do something real with this and touch some feelings, thoughts and themes, so I went in a completely different direction than when I started and I’m super proud of it.”
The result is what Stroud describes as “an art film that lives in a horror universe,” which adds depth to the horror. “It’s more than just some guy killing you because you had sex in a campsite,” says Lybrand.
Production for the film began on the most micro of micro-budgets; writers Stroud and Talley helped out with production on the ground. They soon rounded up an extensive cast through many connections, including the two leads of Lisa Friedrich and Micheal Foulk, both of whom you can regularly see perform a The New Movement comedy theater.
But the biggest casting break was that of Dustin Runnels, more commonly known under his pro wrestling moniker of Goldust, a living legend of '90s wrestling fans.
“He was my hero when I was 11,” says Stroud. “And him being the son of former World Heavyweight Champion, 'The American Dream,' Dusty Rhodes, one of the greatest of all time, I was always attached to him.”
“Wrestlers act a lot,” continues Stroud. “It’s a physical performance, but there’s some acting to it. Some are spectacular at acting, and Dustin was always so good as a wrestling character you would wonder why he wasn’t acting on screen. We had to cast this role of Preacher Woodward, and he was my pipedream.”
Suggesting Runnels may have been a childhood dream for Stroud, but Lybrand made that wish come true. Since Runnels was on a break from performing in the WWE and pursuing an acting career, he jumped at the chance to spend a few days filming in Austin, his hometown.
“I remember him calling me up to ask more about the role,” says Stroud, “And I was just sitting on my apartment steps, holding my phone while my hands were shaking. But working with him was a dream come true. He was such a professional and he is so good in this movie, too.”
On top of that is an appearance by Jill Thompson, an artist who’s drawn comics for over 30 years, including The Sandman, Wonder Woman and her own Scary Godmother series, and even provided a special edition poster.
It all comes together to paint a strange and distinctive picture for a film that seems to be especially charmed. And it won’t be long before the abnormal vision of Meet Me There is unleashed upon the world, with curious viewers invited to like the film on Facebook for updates on where the film will screen next.