Giles Alderson chatted to indie horror filmmakers, writer/director Leroy Kincaide & producer Chloe Chudasama. They went behind the scenes on their debut feature film, The Last Rite.
Leroy was doing stunt work on Jack Ryan, in Columbia, when he had a vision of a man, silhouetted at the top of a staircase, wearing a fedora.
“I had no idea that it was going to lead to me writing a film, but I’m one of those people that sit with an idea or a concept, and see if it keeps ticking in me to explore a bit more or leave it.
I kept seeing this vision of this guy so thought okay let me dig into this a bit deeper. I had episodes of sleep paralysis as a child and used to experience things that are very similar to what lots of people report – seeing someone in the room, terrorising you in the state of paralysis and sleep. So I was like, I’m going to take part of my experience, part of research and put that into a story and then create a character in a world. It’s inspired by true events, but not a true story.”
Chloe’s background was in live events – press stunts and award shows. “I’ve never had any inkling to really get into the industry.
But about six or seven years ago we started doing short films. Leroy wanted to do short films, mainly for getting more work as an actor, because he was getting typecast for certain roles.”
With her background in events, she was used to budgeting and scheduling, so decided to help with the short films. After their fan film short, Max Payne: Retribution, Leroy and Chloe sat down to discuss whether she wanted to take her producing role further, as part of Leroy’s company.
“From that, until we started doing The Last Rite, it was a progression. We wanted to do a feature film together, we both wanted to take our production company further.”
The Last Rite
The job in Columbia meant that Leroy had some money to invest to get it started.
“So I thought shall we just go for it? What do we need to do? How do we need to get this off the ground? And it was just a case of I have this amount to put in, and Chloe did exactly the same.
We invested in some equipment – got a camera, got some other bits and then it all started from there. It was just an accumulation process.”
Chloe had tried to get investors on board, but “it was the typical thing that every filmmaker hears: you haven’t done a feature film, how do we know we can invest in you and trust you?
It was at that point that we’d done the short films. We were thinking we need to just go all in and not wait for anyone else. We’d need to have skin in the game. For me, it was the best decision we could have done. I quit my job to basically do The Last Rite and went freelance… I’m not sure I would recommend it to everybody, but I worked my ass off as a freelance in the events world to bank up as much money as possible.”
It was an all or nothing deal for Leroy. “The thing that I knew, going in, as we’ve got the money to do this much, that means I’m going to need to edit, going to need to shoot it, going to need to light it. I’ve got to do anything that’s post-production apart from some sound design.”
It was going to be a time investment, from my side, to make sure that that happened; because a lot of the money that we had was literally to just put onto the screen. It was a case of if we’ve got to make it work, we go all in, we make it work and we fail our way forward or we succeed moving forward. Thankfully, we’re in the process of a succeed-forward story.”
The most important thing was not necessarily about the money, it was about ‘are we willing to put a year, two years, three years, or basically whatever it needs into this window of opportunity?’ because when you’re an aspiring filmmaker, an aspiring actor, an aspiring anything, you’re not really earning money, therefore your aim is to get into a position where you can earn money to do bigger and better things and move forward.”
Chloe and Leroy both had to upskill themselves in order to make it work. Taking on cinematography, lighting, set dressing, DIT, catering, editing, wardrobe and more.
Producing the Film
“I suppose it was a backwards process, compared to what you would normally do for a budget. Normally, you’d break down the script and then work out how much it’s gonna cost. But we only had a certain amount, so it was ‘let’s try and allocate it in the right way’ in terms of locations, cast and crew. We know how much we’ve got to spend. We wanted to put more money on screen.”
They shot the film in 14 locations in Kent and because they’re Kent locals, they knew the areas well, which made it easier to choose the perfect spots.
“Jonathan Eato, our incredible sound recordist, was pretty much our sole crew member, apart from makeup. And (Chloe) had to be excessively resourceful with what we could do, because we didn’t want to scrimp on location, props and cast; because if we’re going to do it independently, we need to make sure it’s executed to the highest level. If it’s something that people can watch and buy into that really sells a film.”
What Chloe Learned From This Experience
Patience. “I’m probably the most impatient person. The most I’ve learned is to be patient and to trust in your process and what you’re doing. There were a lot of times where it was ‘is this really gonna work out?’, ‘are we gonna find the right home for the film?’, ‘is it going to get to the right person?’ We had big expectations for it. And all the setbacks that we had ended up working out for the better. If I can do it, with absolutely no experience in film, then others can do it.”
Chloe also said that it’s important to trust and believe in the vision of the director.
“That’s one thing I didn’t need to worry about. If I was doing this for someone else, I’d probably have struggled with really trusting the vision that they have. But because I know Leroy, I know how he works and how obsessive and anal he can be, I trusted him to do that.”
Leroy also believes in trusting the process. “Everyone’s looking for shortcuts. There’s no fast track in film.”
He also said that “as a director, if I have a vision for something, then I know it’s achievable. I’m someone who believes that you have to trust intuition and not be fooled by the process of the mind, because the mind lies.
For anybody doubting yourself, if you can get out of your own way, allow room in your lane to look at what you can do and how you can be the best version of that for you in your process.”
To listen to more from Chloe and Leroy, check out the rest of the episode here.