Hanging out at the Rotting Corpse Production table during ScareFest 2015 would prove to be a life-changing experience. A young actress by the name of Sonya Delormier asked if I would help to promote an upcoming Kentucky film called The Wicked One, and handed me a postcard-sized picture of the movie cover. Being a huge fan of independent horror films I was more than happy to spread the word. Never did I imagine I’d also end up being part of this slasher flick!
After a few months of promoting the movie and even contributing to its Indiegogo account I was made aware of auditions they were having for small supporting roles. The opportunity of being in an independent film was something in my bucket list. I became enthused but was also very skeptical of my abilities. However, the motivation I needed came from my editor when he said, “You’re going to audition for this movie and do you know why? Because if you don’t audition I will kick your ass.”
Regardless if I got the part or not, I needed this experience and knew if I didn’t jump at opportunity I’d regret it. So I decided to audition for the part of a mental patient.
The day for the audition finally came. I was extremely nervous (which actually ended up helping me get into character) and began doubting my chances when I saw how many more people were there. I was asked to do a cold reading and given only about five minutes to prepare. Reading over the lines I began laughing; they sounded like things I would actually say to someone just to freak them out. I was called upon and made my way up the stairs to perform in front of the director, casting director and producers. Finished my lines and I was expecting maybe a, “Great, thanks for coming out, we’ll call you.” Instead I got dropped jaws and the director yelled, “That was creepy as fuck!” Applause followed. Two days later I got the phone call, and Wilson “Babyface” Parish was born.
My first time on the movie set was not as my character Wilson Parish. Tory Jones, the director, was in need of extras for a scene in the movie where people are celebrating Halloween at “Wicked Fest.” I asked about filling in, and since I’d be wearing a mask he welcomed me to join the other actors for the day. This was shot at a bar in Richmond. All of the extras were provided with pizza and Zombie Soda (Yes, it’s a real brand).
It was on this day that I learned about pantomiming. During a band’s performance I wasn’t as enthused as they wanted me, so Tory gave me my first line of direction: “You better move your ass.” Later one of the other actors, Cheyenne Gordon, came up behind me like Carl Weathers in Happy Gilmore (“It’s all in the hips”) to get me moving. I left that day with whiplash, as my headbanging got a little out of control.
A couple months go by and I find myself in Moores Hill, Indiana shooting at Carnegie Hall for the promo video and asylum breakout scene. After sleeping for maybe four hours on an inflatable mattress I was on set for twelve hours, and filmed for maybe two of those. Had an awesome time while I wasn’t filming, talking to Jack Norman (“The Wicked One”) and the other actors. When my time came I had to “die” like five times due to the director laughing at me and ruining the take. I also ended up contributing two ideas for scenes in the film (both which made the final cut and got a great response from the audience at the premiere). After an extremely long day I’d have to wait seven months to finally see the film.
Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville, Kentucky would be the place of The Wicked One’s first appearance. It was great seeing the cast and crew again. Tory Jones was doing everything possible to not cry. In a place that could fill about 600 people there were at least 500 in attendance for the film. When I finally saw my death onscreen I was so excited, especially since the entire room either gasped or laughed. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the film, which would prove to be true after the Q&A session.
The awards ceremony began and it didn’t take long for Mr. Jones to get a standing ovation; the film received a total of six awards. Tory received Emerging Filmmaker and Best Kentucky Film; Dale Miller was presented with Best Stunt Coordinator; Jack Norman got Best Kill (which one?); Outstanding Score went to Erik Kyr and the film got the Audience Reaction Award. Again, Tory got all choked up when we went up to receive what he so well deserved after all of the effort put into making this movie.
A few people actually came up to me afterwards and told me they loved my death, a couple even saying it was one of the more realistic deaths in the film. Cheyenne Gordon asked me to audition for his future film, and another filmmaker told me I had an amazing presence on camera and to keep acting. The night ended with laughs, cake and alcohol; a true celebration of hard work paid off.
The experience of working on The Wicked One wasn’t just something to put in my bucket list, but it’s opened more opportunities for acting. I cannot thank Tory Jones enough for thinking I was “creepy as fuck” and enabling me to be part of this sure-to-be cult classic.