A group of college kids travel to a small, mountain town called Madison County to interview the author of a tell-all book on the accounts of several grisly murders that happened there. But when the kids get to Madison County, the author is no where to be found and the towns people act like they haven't seen him in years. They also say that the killer never existed and the murders never happened. However, when the kids start digging around to get their own answers, they find out that the stories may be more real than the townspeople are letting on!
We caught up with actor/co-producer of Madison County, Ace Marrero, to talk about the slasher film.
Horror News Network: How did you get involved with Madison County?
Ace Marrero: Hey Rob, thanks for taking the time!
I met Eric England, when he cast me (oddly enough) as the character ACE in his thesis film , CLOWN TOWN: http://vimeo.com/5143390 Once he graduated, he wrote MADISON COUNTY, and I was actually one of the first people that read it to give feed back. He had been working with some other producers in hopes to get it made, but it kept falling through. He finally grew frustrated enough that he saved some cash to do his own project and wrote the feature, HOSTILE ENCOUNTER, with me in mind as the lead actor.
It was a POV style film, and he got the idea he told me, after seeing how often I would record myself doing different things and posting them online. Without that film, we would not have MC or our latest film ROADSIDE. On that feature, Eric hired his classmate from film school, Daniel F. Dunn, to be his director of photography. We finished the film, and Daniel was really impressed with Eric's work and approached him about producing MADISON COUNTY. Daniel ended up really liking my work as an actor in the film, so he told Eric, he would help find the funding for the movie, but he would only do it, if I could be an actor in it (nice friend, huh?!). I agreed that I'd come on board, after reading Eric's latest draft and responded the most to KYLE. I started to help as they were in pre-production and began taking on producing responsibilities and it wasn't long before Daniel approached me about officially being a producer on the film in addition to being an actor.
Horror News Network: What was it that drew you to the role of Kyle?
Ace Marrero: In the earlier draft of the movie I read, the roles were very different, but for the most part, the essential archetypes were in place. To me KYLE was the most interesting character because it was a type I don't normally get to play, "the bad boy." While I think there is more to it than that, it is the easiest way for people to identify with a, "type", because I'm a quiet, outsider in the group. I really wanted a chance to play with that and color it with my own vibe. On paper, if I was being submitted for MADISON COUNTY by my agents, they would no doubt pitch me for the role of JAMES without ever considering KYLE, because of my, "type." It's funny because originally when Daniel asked me what role I would be most interested in playing, without hesitation I told him KYLE. I think he was initially surprised, as was Eric, but for their purposes I think it made most sense because I could be the, "older" character. The best, is when we've been in a meeting, or I meet someone who has seen the film, and they haven't yet realized that I was KYLE in the movie. Who knows if that is a good or bad thing, haha!
Horror News Network: How long were you on set filming?
Ace Marrero: As a producer, I had to fly out a few days earlier than the other actors, so I think by the end of it, I was there for at least four weeks. We shot for 18 days, but it really was equivalent to 14 or 15, because we could only shoot from sun up, to right when the sun started to go down, and sometimes our locations were a 3 hour round trip!
Horror News Network: Can you talk a bit about working with Nick Principe who played the role of Damien?
Ace Marrero: Nick is a great guy, I actually just talked to him yesterday, because I was inviting him to the release signing on May 8th at DARK DELICACIES in Burbank, CA. Nick was our biggest name in the movie, so we were always nervous about dealing with him. We didn't know what to expect or what demands he would want met, but he was incredible and not only believed in the movie and us so much, but he went out of his way to help when he could. He put us in touch with a great horror outlet and turned us on to Rob Hall, who ended up designing our amazing mask and his team handled all of the practical special fx in the movie. Nick was also the stunt coordinator, and my scene with Nick in the movie is very stunt heavy. He pulled double duty and really helped me execute what was needed to be done in our scene, AND and pulled off what was needed as DAMIEN at the same time.
Horror News Network: For the audience, Damien’s pig face was quite creepy. What was that like to film?
Ace Marrero: The girls had the biggest reaction to it. Joanna Sotomura and Natalie Scheetz had a couple intense scenes with DAMIEN, and they were definitely afraid. When Nick put on the mask, it was hard not to stare. Nick is like 6'8 and with boots and a couple of inches added to the height of the mask, he was enormous. As I mentioned above, my big scene with Nick involved a big stunt. Eric came up to me and asked if I'd be comfortable doing my scene right away as opposed to it being the very last thing of the shoot (due to the danger involved with it) as we had planned. I hadn't had a chance to talk it over with Nick yet, or rehearse it, so I was nervous and I wasn't really thinking about creepy DAMIEN as much as I was thinking about my physical well being. The scene involved some other elements and we were losing time, so Eric asked if I thought I could make it work sooner, as soon as I was comfortable with it after working with Nick. So, Nick made sure we didn't rush anything and planned it carefully so that we were both comfortable and we went for it without worry or consequence. It was not difficult for me to be in the, "moment" to say the least and I thank Nick for his professionalism in that moment.
Horror News Network: Do you have any other horror projects currently in the works?
Ace Marrero: Woah! I have to share this. A package just arrived for me as I was writing this and it's from Matthew Gomez, the owner of PUNK YOUR CHUCKS. MAG, as everyone calls him, is not only a HUGE horror fan, but one of our great sponsors in MADISON COUNTY, and he created a pair of shoes that JENNA's character wears. He also painted the design on the bag I always carry around in the movie. Well, as a gift to me, to celebrate our release on the 8th, he sent me this AWESOME jacket! (see below)
That is my production company logo for SWIM WITH THE FISH PRODUCTIONS! I'm like a little kid here! Speaking of, if I can also include this, we have INCREDIBLE people that we are so lucky to have contributed to this film. Our cast and crew is amazing (we've all worked together on multiple projects since) and people that offered their services, like MAG or our other sponsors BARNABY BLACK or the amazing BamBam at XZAVIER, really helped make this film happen. Everyone has been completely generous and I'm forever thankful to anyone that contributed ANYTHING, even you Rob, for taking the time! Thank you everyone!
As for other projects in the works, Eric, Daniel and I teamed up for another project, ROADSIDE, just a few months after finishing MADISON COUNTY. It's an amazing feature about a pregnant couple, who are stranded on the side of a snowy, mountain road and they are being held hostage by a mysterious gunman hidden in the trees. I play the lead of the film, DAN SUMMERS, and it's very Hitchcockian, and a total departure from the slasher style movie of MADISON COUNTY. We're in the final stages of post production and it should be making its festival premiere in the coming months.
I also have been working as a producer with a different team on a really cool project called, FOR BLOOD OR JUSTICE. It has a vibe similar to FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and I LOVE this script! It's about an eccentric Texas lawman who is in hot pursuit of a pair of rampaging, psychotic killers. He follows them across the mexican border, illegally, and when they get there, they discover this bizarre and horrific world. Check out the short concept teaser here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT3xJw86Pu0
I've got a fun short I'll be working on over the next couple of weeks with a young filmmaker, Jay Parupalli, before I leave the country to star in a feature this summer. It hasn't officially been announced so I can't give the name right now, but I'm really excited because not only is the crew and script great, but it will let me take a break from the producing side of things. They can deal with all of the fun stuff, haha!
Horror News Network: Where can our readers find out more about you?
Ace Marrero: I have a pretty active twitter feed @NotoriACE & of course my website www.acemarrero.com. I love to hear what people think and never shy away from any feedback. Find me, and let me know what you thought of MADISON COUNTY or any other project of mine!
Horror News Network: In closing, what would you like to say about Madison County?
Ace Marrero: MADISON COUNTY exists because of the fans. It was created by one of the biggest fans ever in Eric England, and it continues to have a life because of the fan support we have been fortunate to attract. We are indeed the little film that could, and we are making it happen one day at a time. Image Entertainment has been really getting the film out there and tying that in with our grass roots efforts, we are excited to see how many people it reaches in the coming months. We are all very active on the movie's facebook page and do all sorts of giveaways and such, so please find and LIKE the page to stay in the know http://www.facebook.com/madisoncountyfilm. You can also follow us on twitter @MadisonCoFilm. We have some wonderful talent and this film has helped us all climb the ladder in this business, little by little, so if you are following along, you are a part of our growth!
Horror News Network: Thanks for your time, Ace. Best of luck with Madison County. Have a comment? Post it here.