Someone to Watch Over Me
Bad people look out for a retarded man in a local filmmaker’s horror flick.
By KRISTIAN LIN
Studious-looking yet laid back, Erik Clapp sits down at a local coffee place, his Atari jacket perhaps the only giveaway that he’s 32, for he could easily be younger. This Monday morning finds him drained from having watched the Fort Worth Air Show. “I live practically next door,” he said. “I might as well.”
The sound of airplanes is the least of his concerns now, as he prepares to show his first feature film, Seventy-8, at Addison this week, Denton next week, and Fort Worth the week after that. The mostly black-and-white horror movie is about a man with an IQ of 78 who returns to his community after many years in an institution and stumbles into a sinister conspiracy around the making of snuff films.
It was a big leap for a filmmaker used to making comedic short subjects, many of them parodies of the commercial work that sustains his bank account. (He works in the postproduction facilities at Immotion Studios. Of his shorts, he said, “It gave me a place to vent.”) Seventy-8 evolved from a straightforward and much “angrier” revenge thriller to a more character-driven piece. Shooting began in April 2003, and most of the filming took place in Fort Worth, though the climactic sequence was shot in Dallas’ Lakewood Theater. The experience of filming a murder scene in an alley was almost as harrowing as the scene itself, taking place as it did behind the Stripling & Cox building in west Fort Worth, with no permits, with neighbors looking on, and a director who had never worked with prop firearms and fake blood before. “The biggest difference [between filming a feature and a short] was having a crew,” he said. “I’m used to doing everything myself. We set the schedule to do the smaller scenes first, and as the scenes got more complicated, I got used to having a bigger and bigger crew.”
One of his planned future projects is an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep. He’s collaborating with Fort Worth horror auteur Jon Keeyes, who worked as an assistant director on Seventy-8. (In return, Platt is slated to serve as editor for Keeyes’ next few films.) However, Platt has no plans to pigeonhole himself into horror and sci-fi. “I’d like to do a comedy at some point,” he said. “Comedy is much scarier. You can always make things scary in the editing room, but if a joke bombs, it bombs.”
The Fort Worth native and UTA graduate hopes more locals will be inspired to make films in the area. “Dallas and Austin get most of the attention, but Fort Worth’ll be much more of a hotbed than most people think,” he said. “We need to help each other, and make more kinds of films instead of falling into a specific genre. There’s a lot of talent out there.”
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