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John McLoughlin, Director of Underwood #Interview

A decades old murder comes to light as an unknowing author uncovers a dark mystery while on a retreat. Haunted by a victim’s ghost, she now must find the killers identity through her dreams before the killer finds her first.

In one word, what is Underwood about?


What attracted you to this project? 

I actually wrote the original screenplay which was based on a short that I had written years ago. So when I came across the story one day I was able to re-approach it with a new creative take after being so far removed from the piece. I had developed several feature scripts since writing the original short and I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to flush out and what additions I could make to fill out the story a bit more. The original short was only about 20 pages long but it provided a solid skeleton of the story that just needed a bit more meat on the bones… 

It’s said that there are really only six or seven stories, and those get told in different ways. What about Underwood makes it fresh?

I can honestly say that I haven’t seen a ghost story told in this particular way just yet… but, you’re right… there really are NO original storylines… just creative variations on the standards. I tried to mold my film after a more traditional thriller… slow start… subtle hints… big reveal. If there is one thing about “Underwood” that sets it apart, I think it would be the story within the story. I wanted the audience to feel like they’ve figured it out and are sticking around to confirm their suspicions… but when the reveal finally comes, it’s only a smaller part of a much bigger and unexpected outcome. Hopefully we achieved that in our final scenes.

I love movies with a strong female protagonist and that’s what we have with Underwood. What attracted you to Michelle McCurry as Samantha?

Michelle’s background as a model helped her with being very comfortable on camera and in our first readings she just had an honesty that came through. Her dialog sounds natural and believable. Plus after reading the script and knowing how many times I was going to try and kill her (on camera) she still wanted to do the part! How could I say no?

What was the most challenging aspect of filming Underwood?

Budget… every setback, every re-shoot, every cut scene, every problem a film set has can usually be traced back to money and the lack of it… my film was no exception. However my cast and crew were all volunteers that really rose above each challenge we hit.

When did you first develop a passion for working in the entertainment industry?

I played in bands most of my life. I started writing movie ideas in high school pretty much. I went to NYC right after graduation to study acting. I knew I wanted to do this many years ago…  just took a while to get to the point where I felt ready to be in charge of a full production.  Huge learning process… so many mistakes made… but somehow we got through it and made a fun little movie… passion is the key word here. If you don’t have the passion and stubborn drive to see your creative vision through… it can all fall of the rails at any point… when you have a studio that wants to sell that product I assume you have some help in getting to that finish line… as an indie… you have the voices in your head. and maybe a few friends…

As someone who has spent time acting, writing, directing and producing, which role do you prefer?

I love writing. My favorite part is molding the story and creating the characters. I like to draw from real life for some characters but for others I get to let my imagination run wild. The real challenge with writing is keeping your creativity at it’s peak while still being aware of and planning for a micro-budget production. I like to think BIG when hashing it out… but I also need to consider the financial limits.

What tips can you give aspiring film makers?

Seek out a mentor!!! Find someone that has done it before and is kind enough to just share their experiences with you. I cannot tell you how grateful I was to have the mentorship and decades of experience that William Grefe brought to my set. He’s a veteran filmmaker and had so  much valuable advice on everything from sound to lighting to camera shots. I lucked out having Bill on my side and I strongly advise anyone making a film to reach out and find a mentor. 

What can we expect next from you?

We have some festival entries that will hopefully select us for competition. I’ll post updates as they come. Next we have the 60 page Underwood graphic novel in the works… working with a talented illustrator. Hoping to release this winter, and it’s back to the bricks to get the next one made. 

This is your chance! Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like to talk about?

Thank you so much for the thoughtful questions!  How about a shameless plug??? Please support indie films and check out “Underwood” for FREE on Amazon Prime today!!!

Picture of director John McLoughlin
Published inInterviews
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