Philly has always been an off-the-radar gem for filmmakers. Films and TV shows often show Philly some love by having the story actually set here, instead of, well, New York. Hits like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Silver Linings Playbook” put city pride on many screens. But what is it like to be a filmmaker or actor who lives in Philly full-time and who films here almost exclusively?
Indie horror film “American Exorcist” will have its long anticipated Philly premier on Nov. 5 at the Trocadero. The movie, shot in the former Philadelphia Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St., embodies a certain spirit of the city. (And we’re not talking about what’s haunting the building on Christmas Eve).
Tony Trov is the film’s director.
Metro: What is this movie about?
Tony Trov: A paranormal investigator finds herself trapped in a haunted high-rise on Christmas Eve. We really wanted to make an exorcism film with a Philadelphia flair, so we met with Philadelphia locations manager Chris Gormley and he suggested shooting in a building that is scheduled to be demolished. We ended up doing exactly that, and it really opened a lot of creative opportunities for our crew. We think there’s something truly spooky about Christmas. [Co-director Johnny Zito] and I really enjoyed writing a story about an exorcism on a holy holiday.
What are some changes you’ve seen about filmmaking here?
Sadly our city can’t hold enough work in the film industry to keeping crew members from moving to more active cities like Atlanta. I’ve worked here as a local for years and have seen so many friends move away. It’s sad to see creative communities grow and then fall apart. I’m always surprised there aren’t more films shooting here. It’s such a beautiful city and so many good things to eat. What else could you want?
So how was the process of securing the location for “American Exorcist”?
The whole process of finding a location that works for your shoot can be a lot of work but worth it if you play your cards right. I think it worked out amazing for this.
Falon Joslyn plays paranormal investigator Georgette DuBois
Metro: What is your character like?
Falon Joslyn: She’s paranormal investigator who is dealing with grief from a past incident. It’s changed who she is as a person, makes her a bit more cynical and hard. She walks into this job on Christmas Eve, kind of a bit of a skeptic, and it slowly progresses she’s more of a believer as she gets more trapped. I’m really proud of this character because she kicks her own butt and makes hard decisions. Being a woman of color as a lead, it’s always gratifying to play a character like this and have this opportunity.
What was it like to shoot in the former Inquirer building?
The freedom was endless. When you’re shooting on locations like an occupied building or someone’s home, you have to lay down paper and specific walkways. And it’s a horror movie, so you’re dealing with fake blood spatters and holes in the wall. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong in terms of damaging a property or nice set. For example, I fall out of a ceiling, crawl in the ceiling and put holes in the walls. Also, we had a blood cannon that had to be tested somewhere.
What draws you to a movie that really blends two genres?
We all are big fans of the horror Christmas crossover. One of my favorites is “Krampus” and “Gremlins.” Anything that has to do with the holidays that doesn’t make it a holiday movie. You can work with fun vibrant colors, and it really sets the tone. Mostly becuase you’re making something that is supposed to be really warm and comforting very horrifying.