The Long Night is a horror film by director Rich Ragsdale (Chevelle: Door to Door Cannibals) that brings a demonic cult to rural America where they torment a couple on a farmhouse in service to a greater evil.
Scout Taylor-Compton (Triple Threat) plays Grace, a young woman with no understanding of her family history. She’s spent years trying to track them down when a call from an investigator presents a new lead. Grace and her boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk) leave New York City for a trip deep into southern, rural America. Things start weird and get progressively stranger and more terrifying. Snakes keep showing up in the large farmhouse. Phone reception’s gone haywire, and there’s an altar in the nearby woods. To make matters all the more frightening, a cult wearing goat-head masks surrounds the property.
PopAxiom and producer Daemon Hillin discussed becoming part of the film business and making The Long Night.
Daemon’s been producing for 14 years with more than two dozen projects now in his filmography, including Death of Me and Final Kill. How did he become a producer? “I fell into it. I had a background in fashion. I was in front of the camera for years. From about 17 years old to 23, I did shows in Italy, Germany, Greece, and Japan.”
“I wanted to stay in entertainment and blend business,” he shares as he lost interest in the fashion work he was doing, “but I didn’t have a background.”
What did Daemon do? “I went into real estate and finance.” The move proved to be the right step. “That is what bridged me to production and production finance. I used many tools for mortgages and the [real estate] industry to finance films and package projects. That was the stepping stone for me.” But it was a big struggle. “I was working in a bar and working for a film company for free.”
It can be argued that no one is more important to a film than its producer. “It’s the Rolodex. Who can you call to put this together? It’s turning all that creativity into numbers. How do I explain why I need thousands of dollars of goat-head masks.”
“You have to get back up,” Daemon says about producing, though it’s advice with broad application. “It’s a constant getting dropped on your butt. People are putting you down, especially in LA, where you’ll hear a lot ‘oh, sure, everyone’s a producer.’ So get back up and fight if you love it.”
About The Long Night
Daemon undeniably loves it and finds projects that motivate him to put productions together. “The Long Night came to me through my mentor. He brought me this script and asked if I could help him make it. I read the script and loved it.”
“It had this supernatural feel,” Daemon says and adds, “My mom loves covens and witches, so I was gravitating towards it because my mom would like it.”
What’s the first step for him as a producer? “… getting numbers and understanding what the value of the movie is. From there, what actor will generate the kind of revenue we need to make this movie.”
“Our movie was green-lit, and we all went to Charleston, North Carolina,” he shares as the process seemed to be going as planned. “However, in the time to get the movie greenlit, schedules changed, and we lost the director and a lot of the cast.”
Daemon and his team “were devastated. We thought we were going to lose it all. But we took it on the chin and kept going forward.” They got back up. “We had our crew and our trailers. So, we had to figure out how to fix this situation quickly. I called Rich Ragsdale, who I previously worked with on Ghost House. We had Scout Taylor-Compton in that too.”
“Working on Ghost House in graveyards in the middle of Thailand was grueling.” From that experience, he understood, “I needed to bring in people that worked together before and could work under pressure.”
As the process continued, “we brought in another writer to make it more about folklore than a coven.”
The new writer resulted from Rich Ragsdale, who Deamon explains was the “new captain of the ship, and he’s the visionary. He wanted to put his mark on the film. So, to make it to his liking and what he’s visualizing, he needed to bring in a writer he trusted to do a rewrite. We said ‘no problem.’”
“The foundation was always there,” he explains about script changes. “The characters were similar. But it turned more into folklore; the snake aspect came in, and it became more primal.”
Being a Producer
It’s a miracle that movies are ever made, “There are so many moving pieces, and then you have the human factor. Different creative choices, different amounts of time, moods, attitudes, and changes in the financing.”
“You know, you might have an investor who makes a bad investment elsewhere and suddenly doesn’t have the money for this movie,” he explains. “You have three days to find $750,000. Go!” No pressure.
The Long Night came to Daemon through a mentor. Otherwise, he doesn’t “go look for stuff” and instead uses a different method to find stories to tell. “I’ll talk to my distributor and see what the market needs. Then, I’ll go to my writer friends and say, ‘give me three loglines and synopsis for this kind of movie.’ Then, I’ll take that to the distributor who will say, ‘I like idea number three’ then I hire the writer to write a script for me.”
“I stopped the days of going and looking for scripts,” he continues. “It’s too much. So this way to me is ideal because it gives you a sense of the pulse of what people are looking for.”
Each movie is part of a larger goal to grow as a producer. Daemon has big dreams. “One day, I would love to have the kind of budget to make things like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. I love fantasy; I love heroes and sacrifice. For those things, you need huge FX.”
The Long Night is available on VOD platforms such as iTunes and Prime Video. Daemon recommends VOD “because it helps independent filmmakers.”
Is The Long Night on your watch list?
Thanks to Daemon Hillin and Impact24 PR
for making this interview possible.
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