Interview with Michael Felts, Director of “Yorktown”
Dave: What is Yorktown the movie about?
Michael Felts: Yorktown the movie is about a group of friends who go out to a bar, and they hear about this haunted location out in Yorktown. The guy at the bar, Gabriel, convinces them to go on a road trip out to the location because it’s far away from the city they’re staying in.
As they go to break into the hospital and start exploring, they end up getting killed off one by one in the hospital.
Dave: What originally drew your attention to Yorktown?
Michael Felts: I was at a party one night and we had already decided we were going to do a 70s inspired horror film. One of the friends at the party had volunteered for the Black Swan Inn at Yorktown Memorial hospital and she told me about the location and that how it’s really haunted, and it’d be a perfect location for me to film in.
I was out visiting one of the other producers, Shawn Shaw who’s out in La Vernia, Texas, and since we were so close we decided we could just go ahead and take a little road trip 45 minutes further down 119 to visit Yorktown. As soon as I rolled into the front of the building, that was it. I was sold on that building being my location.
Dave: What made Yorktown the perfect location?
Michael Felts: Coming into Yorktown, what made this the best location was just the overall look of the hospital. The Gothic architecture to it, the arched window above the front door, it’s completely vined overgrown in the front, the building sits in 40 years of decay. But it’s an amazing structure. It’s 30,000 square feet of this immense hospital.
Dave: Have you guys experienced any ghostly activity while filming?
Michael Felts: Out here in Yorktown as we’ve been filming we have run into lots of ghost activity. Yorktown memorial hospital is a very haunted location.
During the film shoot one night, we were out here about 4 o’clock in the morning filming, and the main intersection of the hallway of the hospital looked like it had just reopened. There were a half dozen shadow figures running up and down the hallways, in and out of the rooms. That was probably the creepiest night that we’ve had in the hospital.
In addition to that, one night walking into the old chapel of the building, saw a full body apparition there. Just kinda nodded my head like, “Hey. How you doing?” And continued onto the chapel. We’ve learned to coexist with them in the building. Not so frightened of them anymore.
Dave: What do you want to accomplish with the movie?
Michael Felts: What I would like to accomplish with the movie is to really go back to how 70s cinema focused on the characters of the film.
In modern horror today, it’s so much emphasis on the blood and the gore in the film that the character interactions have completely been overlooked. The story is more about the people exploring.
Not so much about the gore and the deaths that happen in the building, but the overall friendships that are happening.
Dave: What do you feel you’ve already accomplished?
Michael Felts: What I’ve accomplished already with this film is, I’ve learned a lot about the different lighting aspects that we needed. Just the overall challenges with the film, just how a production is put together, what’s involved with making a feature length film, just the overall challenges of doing a film like this.
Dave: What does a director do in a movie?
Michael Felts: A director is supposed to overlook the project, make sure that the framing is done, the cast and crew are giving their all, and giving an overall direction of how the film is moving forward.
But I feel as a director it needs to be more. It needs to be an overall overlook of everything that’s happening with the production.
I have a great cinematographer, and I trust his ability to film the movie, but I also help in framing up the shots. Getting him what I think the movie should look like and be presented.
As a director I’m trying to make the environment fun and entertaining, and not so serious just so that the cast and crew have a good time and they bring more of themselves into the picture, opposed to being a fully scripted film.
Dave: Would you say that a director has a style, and do you think the style should appear in their movies?
Michael Felts: As a director I definitely have my own unique style. It is an embodiment of other directors work as well as my own take on how the image is.
Definitely as a director your style should come across in your film. These are your signature trademarks in doing the film, those little things that you tweak whether it be color or it be camera placements and movements. That’s what sets you apart from other films.
Dave: Is there any experience you’ve gained from making your first feature length film?
Michael Felts: I’ve experienced a lot doing this film. I have learned so much just from the other people involved as far as the lighting, the sound restrictions that we had on this location. This building itself, 30,000 square foot structure, has no power. We tried to use a generator, had issues with the generator.
All these different things have challenged me to learn more and more about film itself, and how to have my stylistic approach towards film, and overcome those challenges.
In doing this I learned a lot about editing, I’ve learned a lot about the special effects, both in editing and make up. It’s been a real education putting together a feature length film for my first film.
Dave: What are you happy with and what are you dissatisfied with so far in the production?
Michael Felts: What I’m happy with so far on this film is just the overall professionalism that I’ve had with the cast and crew. The storyline, how it’s unfolded and how it’s kind of taken on a life of its own. It’s been a great experience with that.
Are there things I want to tweak and change? Definitely, you know different scenes, different lighting situations. But overall I’m quite happy with the film.
Dave: When will production be over with and post-production start?
Michael Felts: The final production date for Yorktown is actually April 9th, and that’ll be our last day actually filming at the Yorktown Memorial hospital. We’ve been going on in filming now for a little over a month, but we’ve been in pre-production and production for just about a year now.
As of April 9th we’ll move into post-production. We anticipate having the final cut of the movie done by June 1st and then we’ll be seen in the film festivals in August, and our premiere which will be at the Santikos Palladium on September 7th.
Dave: Are you expecting a commercial success?
Michael Felts: I’m hoping for a commercial success. I would hope that Yorktown does really well. There’s a lot of people who’ve put a lot of energy and their talents into this. We’ve got a lot of good reviews so far, a lot of people have helped out in moving this forward with this film.
We definitely have our distribution set up as far as DVD and Netflix streaming.
But we’re hoping to be picked up in the film festivals for theatrical distribution. That’s our ultimate goal.
Dave: Are there any projects in the pipeline after this?
Michael Felts: There’s definitely projects in the pipeline after this one. We’re currently working on a few story lines that we’re looking to get started here at the end of April, beginning of may. Those will be straight to DVD movies.
There’s the possibility of a sequel to Yorktown that we’re kind of kicking around at this point.
Also be sure to come back and get the May issue of the Riddler Reviews Electronic Magazine to see included pictures from the set!