Making AnIndieMovie

We go behind the scenes in this interview with movie maker and more John McLoughlin

John on set while filming Underwood – Photo by Christopher Eder

John McLoughlin is a Florida based filmmaker, who was nominated for a Suncoast Emmy award in 2017.  In addition to being a writer and a director, he is an accomplished actor and composer . His production company Inertia Digital Media, has been quite busy. With previous projects garnishing high remarks, their latest project Underwood has been highly anticipated. They ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to gather funds needed to complete the last stretch of filming.

Underwood is a supernatural thriller inspired by the stories of Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen King and Rod Serling. In the movie a decades-old murder comes to light as an unknowing author (played by former Playboy model Michelle McCurry) uncovers a dark mystery while on a retreat. Haunted by a victim’s ghost, she goes on a journey to find the killers identity through her dreams. She has to do this before the killer finds her first. Don’t let the score trending on IMdb “scare” you 😉 away from giving this film a watch. Especially if you’ve ever thought about making a movie yourself. Lot’s to see here if you look at it from that perspective, and call me a scardey cat, but I started watching it in broad daylight and was scared within the first few minutes!

John is a creative entrepreneur who put in a lot of work to bring his 85-page script to life. He runs a successful production company here in Florida, whos film industry has been experiencing lots of changes in recent years, and has over three decades of experience working in the entertainment industry.  He took some time out of his day to chat with me and share with us the truth about what it actually takes to “make a movie.”

“Indie filmmaking is a process that will ultimately lead

a filmmaker to moments of extreme joy.”

What are the challenges to making an indie movie?

That’s a great question… haha now how many hours do you have to listen? Indie filmmaking is a process that will ultimately lead a filmmaker to moments of extreme joy when seeing your words and story come to life on those good shooting days and extreme despair when you see your production get halted for any number of reasons and you know that you can’t afford to pull all of these people together again until who knows when.

The good parts far outweigh the bad though. I’m a writer/director on my projects mostly so it’s really gratifying to see a scene or even a moment just play out like it did in my mind’s eye. Sometimes you get really lucky and the actor can take it to a whole new level. That makes up for 47 takes of a monologue because the lead actor was up all night doing shots with the crew.

How would you describe the Florida film industry?

Paid production work is difficult to find here in FL. They took away all of the incentives years ago and work really dried up for so many talented people. You need to go to Georgia these days to find work. Hoping that changes soon.

I do too, and I see some light at the end of the tunnel, especially here in Miami. What are the biggest highlights of your career?

I’d have to say being able to show Underwood to friends and family after all the hard work that went into making it is a pretty gratifying moment. This film took 5 long years to make. We experienced some pretty crazy setbacks that could have killed the project at many points over that span of time. But the commitment to seeing it through was something everyone that joined the project shared. They believed in the story and just wanted to be part of something they could be proud of.

What is next?

Glad you asked… The “Underwood” 60 page Graphic novel/ comic is coming soon. Inspired by the “Creepshow” classic movie comic. I have a super talented artist converting still frames from the movie into comic book pages with vivid likeness to the actors and dialog fright from the movie screenplay. It should be done by fall. All hand drawn lines – I’ll attach a sample page below:

Also “Underwood” the movie will be expanding onto more platforms and we have a few new screenplays that I’m finishing up that we plan to start reaching out for funding in the coming months. We have entered several festivals around the U.S. and will be appearing at a few of the major horror conventions in 2020 with new projects.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a future project?

Wow… I have so many favorites and I would be honored to just wrap cables on one of their sets take your pick of : Tarantino, Rodriguez, Scorsese, Stone, The Scott Bros, The Demme Bros, Koen Bros, Altman, Nichols, Allen, Welles, Leone, Chaplin… the list goes on.

How did you find the “funds” or what resources did you use to produce the movie?

Oh it was simple, I just I tapped out every credit card that I had… haha true story. I hate owing people money and I just didn’t want the pressure of borrowing anything from someone that I knew. The cast and crew were willing to do the work so I just kept shooting and feeding the people that showed up to help. The big expenses were a few rented locations, meals, props, and gear. I bought affordable pro-sumer quality equipment that I knew would do the job.

There were some scenes that I had to simplify what was originally on the page to match what we could afford to pull off on camera. That’s a funny drawback to writing on a budget. You want to let your imagination go wild but you have to be real about the budget while your wilding out… so an army of zombies may have to just be two or three and some good after effects!

What do you like best about your job?

I love to create things like movies and music that will hopefully be here long after I’m gone.  Doesn’t matter if you’re watching something as classic an old Buster Keaton short or modern sculpture at the MET. Art brings people together… you find commonality, something to share, to think about, to discuss… that’s powerful. To inspire discussion between total strangers. I do what I do for me truthfully… but it’s nice to know that it can affect people. Hopefully in a good way. Underwood has been years in the making. I’ve been haunted by these stories and crazy film ideas for most of my life and now turning them into a tangible art forms and releasing them is like closure on a good relationship… then we can both move on to go find a new love.

I agree with you 100% about art bringing people together! I love art so much! As a writer, the CreateSpace, and now KDP platform has really changed the game. I’m thinking it will do the same for movies. How easy was the process to get your movie on Amazon?

Amazon does have strict and confusing guidelines for setting it all up and you really don’t get much help from Amazon support… it can be frustrating, took me several weeks of back and forth until finally approved. I had to do my own research and troubleshooting on google or you will find yourself waiting for days to get a reply to any questions you have from Amazon support. And even their replies are not always helpful… definitely needs improvements to help users get a project launched.

What drove your choices to put the video up on these platforms and make it available to everyone?

Launching on Amazon was something I’ve thought about for a while. The movie took over 5 years to make and spending another year of entering festivals and waiting for reply would mean another year or longer before we could share the film with the world. I did quite a bit of research and after looking at the options and costs involved I felt that Amazon was the best place to launch the film where anyone could see it. And Amazon is such a high profile platform I knew we could reach people that we never would be able to on a smaller platform. We are also streaming on Vimeo for those who use that platform. Amazon is FREE to launch on which was a big factor as well. Any other major platform can cost over a $1000 just to be placed on the platform. Then you still need to market.

Congratulations on all of your successes in the past and the ones to come John! Thanks for sharing, last question, if someone would like to get involved in the future movie that you make what is the best way for them to go about that?

We are always accepting audition videos and headshots. Please email your resume /info to [email protected] or visit www.underwoodmovie.com – you can email us your links in the form there as well.

Watch Underwood on Amazon, and join the discussion about the movie on Facebook.