Big Demon Promise is a 24 minute comedy/horror short film about.. well.. demon hunting. After two years of work, I’m happy to release this website in conjunction with the online premiere of BDP in order to shed some light on the film’s creation. In addition to this site, you can connect with our creative team through facebook, twitter, and kickstarter.
Please feel free to contact me through my website with any questions or comments about the film or future work. -Taylor Morano, Director
Big Demon Promise began in the fall of 2013. My good friends John Niemiec and Gabriel Caste, who I’ve known since middle school, wrote a script based on characters they had both pretended to be for years. Their plan was ambitious- to write, direct, and star in the film themselves. Gabe sent me the script and asked if I’d like to be involved as a production assistant. I knew it was a great project, so I came onboard. But, as winter came and went, the work-load of a 23 page script and subsequent shooting process became too heavy for Gabe and John, especially since Gabe was in the process of relocating to Los Angeles.
I knew from the moment I read the script that this was something special. And so, since I had just transferred to film school and was eager for an ambitious film project, I asked Gabe and John if I could take over as the director of the film. They happily agreed, and in January of 2014 I embarked on a journey that- unbeknownst to me at the time- would take nearly two years, dozens of people, and over $20,000 to complete.
You can download the screenplay for Big Demon Promise right here.
BDP is the story of Walt, a hometown farm boy who believes his father is possessed. In his desperation Walt hires Jeff, a redneck demon hunter, to help save his father. What ensues is a ridiculous sequence of events as Jeff teaches Walt everything he needs to know about hunting demons. Jeff’s personality and practices are quite unorthodox, and Walt is very uncomfortable in the beginning. As Walt and Jeff learn about each other’s’ pasts, who they’ve loved and what they’ve lost, they find hope in each other’s stories and develop an unlikely friendship. To make things right again, the men come together to finish what they started.
Assembling the Team (Pre-Production)
In February 2014, Jordan T. Parrott came on board as our Director of Photography. Jordan and I had been developing a different sci-fi short film which I wrote, but I promptly switched gears when the opportunity to make BDP became available, and I was happy to have Jordan stick with me. We began discussing the technical details of production, as well as the creative vision we both had. Jordan selected many of the primary crew members, including the Key Grip, First Assistant Camera, and Key Gaffer. Jordan also assisted heavily with production scheduling, showing me the ropes for how to keep the crew healthy and happy.
In April and May, I headed a rigorous casting process. As a two-man show, these parts had to be right. I was fortunate to stumble across David Spadora as a potential actor. David and I grew up in the same area of New Jersey, and I saw David perform in “The Last Five Years” at his high school when I was in eighth grade. We connected over Facebook and met over Skype to read through the script. Within a few minutes, I knew we had found our Walt.
Jeff’s character was a bit more challenging to nail down. I spent several weeks searching through thousands of profiles on Backstage, shortlisting 50 and auditioning 5. Joshua Stenseth was the first audition. He brought a unique, straight-comedy approach to the ridiculous character. His approach was different from what I first envisioned, but before long I couldn’t see the part as anyone else. In late May David, Joshua and I all met in person to read through the script. And that was that.
In June, we launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign- attempting to raise $10,000 to help make the film. The campaign lasted 30 days and reached its goal with less than 3 hours left. Nearly 100 people donated to our campaign and helped us spread the word about this exciting new project. To everyone who supported us along the way, we thank you.
Lights, Camera, Demons! (Production)
Filming for Big Demon Promise started on August 11th, 2014 in High Bridge, New Jersey. We were fortunate enough to find a local farm that had everything we needed for our locations. The owners graciously agreed to let us take over their farm for a week, all without charging us a dime. We shipped a cast and crew of nearly 15 people in from NYC, and my fantastic, wonderful parents gave us their house for a week. Once we solved the shortage of beds and food, we got to work.
I could write an entire book on everything that happened in the next 5 days. Blocking, lighting, rehearsing, shooting, eating, not really sleeping, problem solving, laughing, running around, and learning. I was so happy with the team we put together. Every person on set had a purpose and contributed significantly to the film’s success. At 6am on Saturday morning, after a long and final night shoot, we wrapped up production.
The Final Cut (Post-Production)
I spent the next year editing the film. My target release date got pushed back three or four times before I finally settled on October 16, 2015. The final two months leading up to the release have been the most intense of all. Finding a composer, a sound designer, a vfx artist and a colorist all within our budget proved to be a challenging task. But ultimately we found the right people, and their work has helped us cap off a long journey.
Making movies is hard; like, really hard. It takes time and money and patience and talent and no small amount of good luck. My goal for this film, and what I hope was my success, was to assemble the best team of talented young artists around. I have no doubt that in 15 years, the names you read at the end of this film will be found in independent films nominated at the academy awards and in blockbuster movies at the top of box office charts. While I am proud of what I accomplished as a young and inexperienced filmmaker, I am most proud of all my new friends who helped make this film with me. Thank you all.
So, where’s the movie!? You can watch Big Demon Promise on Vimeo right here.