BY SOL GARCIA
A new Rio Grande Valley horror production company is asking locals to join them in striking fear and reaping screams from movie watchers.
Blood Moon Films was founded by a group of Valley natives, including Monte Alto resident Abel Gonzalez, about four weeks ago because they want to build the Valley’s representation in horror films, beginning with their first slasher movie “Forest of Toys.”
The film’s narrative begins with Cletus Springs who arrives in a Valley city currently facing the problem of children disappearing. The story is set in a sinister forest, which Gonzalez said was inspired by Mexico City’s Island of Dead Dolls, which is littered with toys, but the real horror in the ‘80s-era movie happens when Springs is disfigured, murdered and then brought back for vengeance.
Gonzalez, a director and writer for the company, said it is important to him that the entire cast of the film is made up of Valley natives.
“We’re underrepresented in the entertainment industry. When they make movies (about) the Valley, it’s very rare that they’ll come down,” Gonzalez said. “When they do, they don’t use local people. There isn’t someone that can champion us, as far as writers, filmmakers and actors if a movie comes from Hollywood.”
Blood Moon Films is currently holding virtual auditions for the core cast roles for the film. Crew members and extras are also needed. Those who are interested can visit Blood Moon Films’ Facebook page, or its website, https://bloodmoonfilms.com.
Applicants will be sent sides, or parts of the script, and videotape themselves reciting lines. The recording can then be uploaded to the webpages. Auditions are set to close Oct. 26.
Starting with “Forest of Toys,” Blood Moon Films hopes their productions bolsters the Valley’s involvement in the entertainment industry.
“What we want to do is put local people in the driver’s seat to make these movies and make them about us,” said Gonzalez, who has produced and edited several other projects like the Mexican crime drama “Mujeres Peligrosas.”
So far, the crew includes local cameraman Jeff Bergman, who also works for Adam Sandler’s production company called Happy Madison Productions, a local special effects makeup artist Erik Alamia, and a graphic artist currently in Mexico who designs all social media content and posters.
“We’re just trying to give as much exposure to local talent,” said Gonzalez, a Monte Alto native.
“If there’s somebody that wants to come down, and they actually require a fee, we can always entertain that.” Gonzalez said. “We would love for it to be all done in house, all in the Valley.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed much of the way the entertainment industry operates, and Blood Moon Films has had to adapt to the new way of producing movies. On top of casting virtually, Gonzalez said the production has had to keep the crew as small as possible.
“We actually took a minimalistic approach, and we said that we would have (a) small cast, small crews and that everything would be tailored around to keeping everybody safe,” said Gonzalez, a founder, director and writer for the company.
Because of COVID-19, Blood Moon Films has not yet been able to rent a studio, but plans for production to be based in Edinburg.
Blood Moon Films will select the cast by November, and production is set to start in January. Gonzalez said the goal is to have ‘Forest of Toys’ out by summer and available to stream on several platforms, including Hulu and Vudu.
Gonzalez said much like his crew, horror films have a special place in his heart.
“We all grew up watching ‘80s horror films, and we thought it would be cool to make an ‘80s era movie. The cast will be in ’80 era clothing, so it’s like we get to dress up for Halloween for work,” Gonzalez said.
Along with “The Nightmare on Elm Street” series, Gonzalez said inspiration for ‘Forest of Toys’ came from the work of director Alfred Hitchcock, who produced several horror and thriller classics including “Psycho” in 1960, and “Vertigo” in 1958.
Gonzalez said his advice to other filmmakers is to take risks and stop wasting time.
“What I’ve learned is that we’re not promised tomorrow, so we can’t wait for an opportunity to present itself. We have to make our own opportunities,” he said. “We have to get into the driver’s seat and write our own narrative. We can’t wait for somebody to come and say, ‘Hey, why don’t you tell me your story?’”
Sol Garcia is a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.