Logline: “While surprising his fiancé with a newly inherited property, a man is forced by a mysterious woman to confront his past behavior.”
Like many indie filmmakers financing their own projects, “Damage Control” started with: what resources could I pull together to shoot something new? In December 2017, I was looking after a hippie commune-like property for a friend, just up the hill from where I live. I’d go up there and think to myself, what is the story of this place? It was so peaceful there, but at the same time creepy. All I can say is the place was ‘Shining.’ It was begging to be photographed.
“The Twilight Zone” is a trusted source of inspiration for me when ideas are percolating. I revisited the episode “Deaths Head Revisited”, about a former SS-Officer who returns to Dachau concentration camp, ten years after liberation. It’s a powerful episode that Rod Serling wrote in reaction to the then-going Eichmann Trial (1961). The SS-Officer finds himself put on trial by ghosts who died at his hands, ultimately driving him insane. What resonated with me thematically was something a Prisoner said to the Officer, “This is not hared. This is retribution. This is not revenge. This is justice. But this is only the beginning…”
This piece of dialogue felt so timely to me because of the cultural shift happening with the Me Too and Times Up movement against sexual harassment. As a guy who grew up with a strong female presence in his family (I am the middle child of two sisters), I wondered how men who committed crimes against women could so easily keep it inside and go on with their lives as if nothing happened. That is when the idea came to me and these three elements no longer felt disparate. Let’s tell a story through the point of view of a man in the moment of his reckoning. When he can no longer contain his festering guilt and karma comes around.
The themes were potent but had to be disguised, as I didn’t want to be heavy handed or insensitive to the subject matter. I pitched the idea to screenwriter, Matthew Wygodny, who I knew could mask this in genre and really get the tone down. In a matter of days he had a draft. Matt flew to Los Angeles (from Toronto, Canada) to rewrite with me at the property and I began casting. The film was shot on December 29th and 30th of 2017.
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