August 4th, 2014

The horror genre has always been of particular interest to Brett Lopinsky, a runner at The Mill's studio in Los Angeles whose filmmaking is gaining momentum as a savvy producer. Brett’s most recent work, a short film called "Lucas Cain" directed by Cullen Metcalf-Kelly, puts a spin on the horror-inspired themes of the big screen.

After a successful premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival, "Lucas Cain" has begun its journey through the film festival circuit on a positive note, building momentum for the duo's upcoming dream project – Blackland Salvage, a feature-length companion film. Brett takes us to the Austin, Texas set for a look behind the scenes and discusses the inspiration and future plans for the noir thriller.

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What is the film about and what inspired it?

"Lucas Cain" is a noir thriller, a tale of lust set deep in rural Texas centering on a not-so-chance encounter between a mysterious trucker and a vengeance-bent seductress.

I’m a fan of thriller, horror and grindhouse movies from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I felt that with a unique and engaging narrative we could take those genres in an exciting direction. We aimed to achieve that in this film: get back to the basics, make a cool image and tell an interesting story.

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How did the project get its start?

I worked with Cullen Metcalf-Kelly, a close friend of mine. We began producing "Lucas Cain" about a year ago as a companion piece to a feature Cullen had written – our dream project – called Blackland Salvage.

Our goal was to start with "Lucas Cain" in order to generate momentum leading up to the feature, currently in production. We realized early on that taking on a feature film as a first film was a daunting task for many reasons, including budget and schedule management. Basically, we felt we should walk before we ran.

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How did the film's sponsorship come about?

It all started in Austin where Cullen lives and where part of my family is from. The Austin Film Society awards an annual grant for new filmmakers where applicants vie for funding from many of the film industry’s leading companies. While we didn’t win the grand prize, we ended up peaking the interests of companies like Kodak, Panavision and MPS, a Texas-based grip and electric house. All of them donated money and resources on varying levels that enabled us to shoot the film on the 35mm format, which we really believed gave the best life to this film.

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Where have you taken “Lucas Cain”, and where has it taken you?

We were lucky to have a lot of support for this project in Texas. That made production a bit of a homecoming for us. We shot the film entirely in the cities in and around Austin over a period of 10 days. After wrapping the picture, the post was done entirely in Los Angeles thanks to generous donations of time from The Mill's telecine department (LaRue Anderson and Christopher Obal) and Todd AO Sound Studios (OnnaLee Blank). We recently had our "world premiere" at the Manhattan Film Festival in New York where we took home Best Short: Horror.

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What’s next for the film?

We are actively pursuing a Los Angeles premiere screening and hope to have a venue and date locked down within the next month or two. We realize it’s a nearly impossible task to sell a short film, but we’re hoping it continues to do well on the festival circuit and that it generates enough faith in us as filmmakers to get the ball rolling on our many films in the pipeline.

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What’s next for you?

Blackland Salvage is the companion feature to “Lucas Cain”. It was written prior to the short film and it’s our real passion project. We have a beautifully written script and a short list of hopes and dreams for the picture. We recently began the process of actually making it a reality. Anyone have a couple million bucks we could borrow for a year or so?!

Even if you don't have a couple million bucks to spare, look out for the next screening of "Lucas Cain" at Knoxville Film Festival in September and check out the trailer below.