— Via AustinFusionMagazine.com —
Lex Lybrand isn’t a big horror movie fan.
But after reading a script written by friend Brandon Stroud, Lybrand’s latest feature “Meet Me There” — a horror film — was born.“Someone else who may have made their first horror film might cite references or say, ‘I want to do a call back to this movie,’” Lybrand says. “I don’t even have that in my canon. I don’t have the cognitive ability to rip off a horror film so I liked the idea of making one because I knew it would be from an original place.”“
Meet Me There” isn’t your typical horror flick. Based on real-life stories and a small rural town in Oklahoma with a morbid aura, the film features strong character relationships with life lessons that are rarely seen in the horror genre.“It’s a lot about overcoming sexual dysfunction, getting to the root of it, and being okay with it,” Lybrand says. “You can’t fix every problem you have.”
With no throwaway gore or monsters, the film uses imagery, mood and weird scary elements. The ideas for the scarier side of the film came from hearing bizarre stories told by friend who grew up in a small town in Oklahoma called Atwood, where the town is so tiny there are no mailboxes, but the city has the need to employ several crime scene clean-up crews. People often travel to the town to die. There is not much literature about the town out there, but writer Brandon Stroud combined the stories and turned them into part of the narrative.“It’s fascinating, and I remember saying ‘This should be a movie,’” Lybrand says. “Several people who work on the film — who live here but are from the area (in Oklahoma) — when you ask them if they have heard of it they just get this look on their face like, ‘Yeah you’re not going to go there are you?’”
“Meet Me There” also has a unique cast that Lybrand believes was good for the film. The majority of the cast are Austin locals and the leads are both comedians. The film contains a lot of funny people in scenes that aren’t really comedic. The cast also features Austin native Dustin Runnels, known to WWE fans as Goldust.
Casting Runnels is something Lybrand is happy with, as Runnels not only adds to the film, but he helped score shooting locations and is giving the film exposure with a new fan base.
“I told him the storyline and the character he would be playing and he was like, ‘Yes, sign me up,’” Lybrand says. “So wrestling websites, a pro wrestling film festival and magazines are wanting to know about the film and do stories, or show it just because he’s in it.”
Filmed locally over about 14 days, some scenes were shot at Runnels’ sister’s Marble Falls ranch and others at a church in South Austin. Lybrand had a relatively low budget and wants upcoming filmmakers to know that you don’t have to have a huge budget to shoot a feature length movie. All it takes is doing research and sometimes simply asking to use a location.
“You’ve got to be willing to cut corners, but in a way that gets you close to the same result,” Lybrand says.
Lybrand moved to Austin about four years ago with his wife and fellow filmmaker Kelli Horan. They made the move from Tuscon, Ariz., where Lybrand attended film school after being fascinated with TV and film from a very young age. The pair wanted to follow interesting and creative job leads.
Together they made “Summer League,” which was released this year. Making the film taught Lybrand more about the process of film making — but creating “Meet Me There” was different in every way.
“’Summer League’ is a family coming of age film, while ‘Meet Me There’ is like ‘have sex with me or everybody is going to die,’” Lybrand says.
For “Summer League,” Lybrand also had a larger crew for softball scenes that needed 40 or 50 people on set at a time. On the other hand, “Meet Me There” was mostly him with a camera and somebody with a boom mic — a much more intimate production.
The film will be screened in Austin a few times in the months to come, before making a big premiere. Lybrand and his team are still working on editing and thinking about what the right platform for the premiere will be.
“We’ve been invited to a couple film festivals which is a first for me,” Lybrand says. “I’m used to begging for festivals and getting rejected, and a lot of festivals won’t show films that have been premiered somewhere else.”
When asked about future goals, Lybrand says he is very happy with where he is and what he has accomplished for someone who doesn’t necessarily define himself as a filmmaker. He says he will figure out the next goal along the way.
“I never had desire to move to L.A. and be somebody’s assistant,” Lybrand says. “I would rather just make a movie with next to no money and skip all of that.”
“My goal in film school was just to make a movie that was in the $5-bin at Walmart — not because they’re shitty movies — but because those are a thing, they’re tangible. You buy them you take them home and put them in your DVD player, and now that equivalent is Netflix and we can do that. Not right now, they won’t be giving us enough money, but after we make a couple films and they know us, and they care, we can put them on Netflix. I consider that to be the pinnacle.”
Written by Casie Kruppa (firstname.lastname@example.org)[divider]