The Movie Waffler Waffling With SIGHTINGS Director Dallas Morgan | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With SIGHTINGS Director Dallas Morgan

Writer-director Dallas Morgan’s unnerving supernatural thriller Sightings premieres on VOD this November.

sightings poster

Dante Basco (Hook, Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses), Kevin Sizemore (Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462), and Boo Arnold (Nashville) star in a pulse-pounding cornucopia of Stranger Things, Signs and Jaws, arriving November 7th.

When former Sheriff and skeptic of the paranormal, Tom Mayfield (Arnold), encounters three dead bodies on his Texas ranch, he must enlist the help of his conspiracy-theorist brother-in-law (Rawn Erickson II), a local surveillance expert (Basco), and a renowned cryptozoologist (Stephanie Drapeau), in order to uncover who or what is behind these mysterious events.

While being pursued by the local detective (Sizemore) as a lead suspect for these deaths, Tom is forced to reconsider his preconceived ideas of what lies beyond our planet.

Ultimately, he must mend the estranged relationship with his daughter (Tahlia Morgan) and come to grips with the truth of his missing wife (Tiffany Heath), as he discovers the importance of community in survival and the belief in the unseen.

From High Octane Pictures, the studio that brought you Clowntergeist and The Answer, comes another workout for your goosebumps, Sightings, out November 7th.

Congrats on the release! Has it been a long time coming? When did the journey begin?

Thanks! Yes. I imagine any movie takes longer to make than one would like. I started the outlining process over Christmas break 2011. I sat down to write the first draft in January of 2012. We started the fundraising process and brought our first investor on in January of 2013. It took us two years from then to secure all of the financing before we could go and make the movie.

So by the time it releases it will have been over five years from when I started writing!

The movie’s trailer suggests it encompasses some elements considered a staple of the contemporary thriller but also that it’s a rather unique beast. Is that fair to say?

Yes. My intention from the beginning was to take something that’s pretty familiar in pop-culture but present it in a new and compelling way.

How did you originally pitch it to your cast/crew?

During my first meetings with anyone I would always make it very clear - We are not making a creature feature, we are not making a traditional horror movie, we are not making a Bigfoot movie. We are telling the story about a family and how their relationships transform as a result of these extraordinary experiences. The heart-beat of the movie is our lead character, Tom, as he journeys from being a skeptic of these phenomenon into a believer. All of this just happens to be set against the backdrop of an exciting and sometimes scary thriller on a ranch.

And how would you describe the tone?

I like to reference other movies in trying to convey the tone. I would say it has the setting and atmosphere of Signs, the creature and adventure elements of Jaws, combined with the science-fiction style of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Where does the interest in the mythical creatures come from?

I am not a naturalist - I believe in the spiritual and supernatural realm. So any story that connects with that is interesting to me. Exploring ideas that deal with myth and legend helps us to see things beyond ourselves and learn truths from them.

Tell us about the cast…

I am so proud of our cast and the work they did. Tahlia, who plays Hannah, is my wife. She helped produce the film. So from the beginning we knew she would be playing that role and I was able to write her character with that in mind. Then there’s Boo Arnold, who plays the main character Tom. He really did a great job of communicating so much despite really not having a ton of dialogue. Rawn Erickson II, who plays crazy Uncle Rickey, was a lot of fun to work with. I think out of the entire cast he probably required the least direction. Any time we ran a scene, he pretty much nailed the delivery and tone I was hoping for right away. Jason J. Lewis is a long time friend of mine, so it was a lot fun for us to get to work together finally. Kevin Sizemore came aboard pretty close to production, but he is the type of actor who contributes so much to a role with ideas and suggestions. Dante Basco was who I pictured for the role of Akiro as I was writing - so to have him read the script and agree to participate was great. Stephanie Drapeau was cast in more of a traditional way in that she submitted a video of her reading some scenes. But as I worked with her, it was crazy how many personal similarities she had to the character of Rebecca. I could seriously talk about every cast member - Pia Inca, Tiffany Heath, Kathy Rose Center, Devin Sarno, Megan Peterson, Ron Fallica - because they all did a great job.

The location itself is somewhat of a star too.

Yeah. The biggest thing the location provided was the isolation. Putting these characters out in the middle of nowhere helps with creating danger.

Was everyone a little freaked out by those beasts on set? Or was that all CGI?

I don’t think anyone was freaked out, but we all had a good time. When you’re on set in the moment, things are usually more humorous then scary.  The creature was completely practical - No CGI there. The only VFX we had were very subtle and mostly used to enhance certain shots.

Any changes to the film between completion and distribution?

No. However, when we were going out to distributors with the movie I did have several agents tell me that we should add more shots of blood and gore, otherwise they wouldn’t take the film. One guy told me to get some shots of the creature clawing cars in the town. Haha. When I heard that, I immediately knew these weren’t the right partners for the movie as they didn’t understand what we had created. High Octane, who is releasing the movie in the U.S., really appreciated the movie for what it was and that was one of the major reasons we teamed up with them.

How much say do producers and filmmakers get in a film once it’s been sold to a distributor? Do you have to just let it go and wish it luck?

We’ve had complete say over the actual film the entire time… what we have had to trust our distributor on is the marketing materials - the trailer, poster, tag lines etc.

What do you hope audiences get out of the film?

I genuinely hope everyone has a great time watching the movie. I want it to not only give them some good laughs and some thrills, but to impact them emotionally too. If they walk away having at least three moments, scenes, sequences, or elements from the movie that stick with them and cause discussion then we will have succeeded.