Kicking off Women in Horror Month is an interview with a young filmmaker out of North Carolina who’s just completed her first feature film. Lauryn Green first became interested in making her own movies when she was a child and for the past several years, has done pretty much all there is to do in filmmaking behind the camera, from writing and editing to sound, but she made he directorial debut fairly recently with her 2019 horror film, JED, produced by her own company, Outlandish Productions.
Shot in the summer of 2018, JED was completed in September of last year. After a private screening for the cast and crew in November, the film is now being submitted to festivals, so stay tuned. More recently, Lauryn worked as a production sound mixer on the first season of the TV mini-series Camisado: The Event Series, which just wrapped shooting and is scheduled to premiere in the very near future. Learn more on Lauryn’s past, present, and future projects in this recent exclusive interview. All accompanying photos courtesy of Lauryn herself.
LAURYN GREEN: I was not. I was born in Georgia and moved around a lot because I come from a military family. Before I was 12, I lived in Georgia, Alaska, Kansas, a few places in Virginia and North Carolina. When my dad retired from the Army, I was about 12 and we moved to Conover, North Carolina and I stayed there until I went to college at Appalachian State University in Boone. After college, I lived in Asheville for a few years before moving to Raleigh last year. When people ask me where I’m from, it’s very hard to give a solid answer (laughs).
CHRIS: When did you first become interested in filmmaking and decide it was what you wanted to do professionally?
LAURYN: I want to say when I was about six or seven, I was always messing with recorders; tape recorders and toy voice recorders. I begged for a camera for a while and I would always write little skits and plays to put on with my younger sister. I used to keep a few journals of longer stories that would pop in my head and I’d never show them to anyone. They were an outlet for me to be creative and write and imagine all these stories and questions in my head. In high school, I took a video editing class and that’s probably the first time I really did something that fueled the passion. I tried editing a little bit on my own beforehand and enjoyed it, but wanted to be better at it. I had the idea in my head that if I knew how to create and finalize videos on a technical standpoint, that could finally share my writing and my thoughts with everyone in a video/movie format. I always knew I enjoyed film, video, and storytelling, but it took a while before I realized I could do it without having a Hollywood studio. I made some films in college, which were a blast, and it really clicked then that I could do this and I haven’t stopped since.
CHRIS: Our mutual friend, Ashton Helton, put us in touch. How did you and her first meet and have you two ever worked together on any film projects?
LAURYN: Ashton and I met when I started a cast and crew call for JED, my first feature film. We hadn’t worked together before, but once we started communicating about the film, I knew she was going to be amazing for the shoot. We’ve worked together a little bit afterwards on some short films, but I plan on working with Ashton any chance I get in the future!
CHRIS: I understand your horror feature JED was over a year in the making?
LAURYN: JED was written in October 2017 and we shot it in the summer of 2018. All the time before the shoot was planning; scheduling, location hunting, figuring out food, prop shopping/creating, wardrobe, shot lists, production schedules, etc. We did shoot a trailer in April 2018 to use for a fundraiser campaign and it gave us a great opportunity to test some shots out before our actual production. I wasn’t able to finish up editing until about May 2019, due to some unforeseen circumstances and relocating from Asheville to Raleigh, but by September 2019, we had JED edited, scored, and ready to go. In November 2019, we had our first showing for cast and crew. It was humbling to see everyone enjoy the film and support each other, and the premiere made everyone eager for the next shoot!
CHRIS: You had to recast JED from the original teaser to the final cut?
LAURYN: We did have another actress cast as “Kim” in JED and she was in the initial trailer. She had a scheduling conflict for our main production, but luckily Laura Mae Stacey was able to fill the role and she was phenomenal. We were joking during the whole production about how she’s not in the trailer and everyone will watch the movie after the trailer and ask “who the hell is that?” But of course, we cut together a new trailer after production that included Laura.
LAURYN: I wanted real reactions from the actors during JED to have a little fun; we all thought it would be interesting to not see what/who they’re running from until they were actually running from him. Plus, everyone enjoys a nice dramatic reveal. We did this with the JED RV as well when two characters charge in to look for a car part. We had bloody meat, masks, jars of weird parts, blood, vintage porno magazines, and even live hissing roaches, courtesy of Ashton. The reactions from the actors in the RV were one hundred percent real. It reeked to the high heavens in there because of the meat and we had to take several breaks between shots to get fresh air. Everyone had fun staging the RV and having the reveal caught on camera. You’ll have to see for yourself the look of disgust on their faces!
CHRIS: And you used real rotting animal organs to capture as genuine a reaction from the cast as possible?
LAURYN: I bought expired beef kidneys and an expired pork liver specifically for the trailer shoot in April 2018 to give us a little realistic look and feel on top of the fake blood and guts we were going to use already. At first, those parts just served for visual purposes, but as time went on and everything started smelling horrendous, it caused a natural reaction from the actors that was perfect for the film. No animals were harmed during this shoot. We actually spent a lot of time loving on about 13 dogs, 3 cats, and a ton of horses on location!
CHRIS: Has JED shown at any film festivals yet?
LAURYN: JED hasn’t premiered in any festivals yet, but we’re currently entering several. We’ll announce any showings or accepted entries on the JED Facebook page.
LAURYN: Originally, the vision was to make a trilogy; JED being the middle film in the chronological story. The initial plan involved a sequel following the characters who survived in JED and finishing the story, as well as a prequel, which delved deeper into the story of the asylum we see through nightmares of one of the characters in JED. As more films and ideas come about, right now we’re not sure if we’re going to finish the trilogy, return to it at a later date, or let JED stand alone. Either way, we’re hoping JED will leave the audience wanting more from Outlandish Productions.
CHRIS: Let’s talk about a couple of the other films you’ve worked on. I see you are a co-writer and director of photography on The Witch, the Wallet, and the Widow. What can you tell us about that film?
LAURYN: That film was for the most recent 48-Hour Film Project that I participated in with Hidden Walls Productions. I actually didn’t do much of the writing, but was DP and editor for the film. It’s always interesting to see what we can produce in 48 hours, and I think we did pretty well with the allotted time, genre, and dialogue guidelines. Outlandish Productions definitely has plans to enter at least one of these competitions in 2020, so we’ll see you in the competition!
CHRIS: How about Invader?
LAURYN: Invader is another Hidden Walls Productions film. It was written by my good friend, Corey Wall, with the intent to tell a story about PTSD. For this film, I mainly served as a gaffer, but offered help where I could.
LAURYN: Horror has always been a favorite genre. I tend to flock to horror films when I want inspiration because there are so many sub-genres, obscure stories, and low budget gems within horror. Horror tends to be the only genre where you can have a huge variety of good scares and unintentionally funny effects, yet every film on the budget scale is entertaining in its own way. Through making JED, I learned more about the horror community and was pleasantly surprised at how supportive horror fans to EVERY horror film, and I truly believe it’s because there are no limits or restrictions on the creativity to horror stories.
CHRIS: Who have been some of your favorite people to work with on either side of the camera?
LAURYN: I’ve worked with lots of crews in North Carolina and across the country and have found something to love about every crew. My absolute favorite people to work with are two of my best friends; Bobby Pimentel and Corey Wall. We’re extremely supportive of each other and always help each other in every way possible to make our scripts come to life. I always enjoy working with new people too, because I learn something new from everyone I work with.
CHRIS: Is there anyone in indie films, once again, on either side of the camera, you haven’t worked with, but really want to work with?
LAURYN: I’ve only recently met Beverly Tan of Raleigh (North Carolina), but her work is amazing and I’d love the chance to work with her in the future!
CHRIS: I guess every film you work on is also a learning experience. Is there any film in particular in which you feel you’ve learned most?
LAURYN: JED definitely has taught me more about filmmaking than any other film I’ve worked on. Through JED, I learned skills I hadn’t had to really use before like full production scheduling, fundraising, crafting, and keeping momentum for a nine-day shoot. There were countless things I learned during production, like how to reschedule on the fly when rain pops up in the forecast or that fight scenes definitely need fight choreographers. Post-production is when I learned the most about what not to do during production next time, and those lessons have stuck with me on more recent films. The experience as a whole taught me a lot about myself and pulled me out of a dark place, by surrounding myself with talented friends and doing what I love. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
CHRIS: You’ve done just about everything there is to do behind the camera. Have you ever had any desire to be in front of the camera, even if it were just a small role or cameo?
LAURYN: I’d love to act a little bit. I think every director should have experience in every film position to be a better director. I’m currently writing a buddy-cop web series with Bobby Pimentel and Corey Wall specifically designed with a role for me, and this will be the first project I’ve written and have not been behind the camera during production. We’re still in very early pre-production phases, but I’m excited to start on it and we know our viewers will be happy to see it!
CHRIS: I understand you have just begun production on a series entitled Camisado: The Event Series. Please tell us about that.
LAURYN: We just wrapped on the first round of shooting, which was nine days straight. Some of those days were 20 hours long. Though sleep was scarce, we didn’t encounter any problems we couldn’t solve. There’s lots of talent on this series. The actors are phenomenal and the crew is resilient. I’ve made some great friends so far in this experience and I’m looking forward to finishing our season one production. This will definitely be a treat for viewers!
CHRIS: What else are you currently working on?
LAURYN: Currently, I’m finalizing a short film I wrote and directed last March in 2019; A Stitch in Time. It’s the story of two women, who are falling out of love, and just captures a moment of their lives where a difficult and life-changing decision is made. It’s based on a true story and was at times emotionally difficult to make, but with the right cast and crew, we were able to tell the story in the perfect way. A Stitch in Time is an emotional film, as it also became a way for me to heal from a past experience. The film is driven by music, all originally scored and by the talented David Cortello. I’m excited to share the film with everyone and hope it connects with all of our audiences in some way.
CHRIS: Do you have any interests or hobbies that most people don’t know about?
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you again for doing this with me, Lauryn. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
LAURYN: I want to thank every person I’ve worked with so far for letting me help bring your visions to life. Putting your “baby” (scripts) and faith in other people’s hands to create can be such a scary thing, but the results are always worth it. Thank you to everyone who has helped tell my stories and for those of you I have yet to work with, I can’t wait to make something incredible with you.
CHRIS: Oh, just one last question: Where are all the dogs that lived on the set of JED now?
LAURYN: They’re living their best lives with Cheryl and her cats and horses!
The music accompanying the trailer for JED is part one of
the 1949 song “Butcher Pete” by Roy Brown.
Thank you to Ashton Helton.