The Geek Goddesses is covering Grimmfest this year which runs from 7-10 October 2021 at Odeon Great Northern in Manchester. A virtual edition runs from 14th-17th October 2021. As part of our coverage, we’ve been lucky enough to secure some interviews with some of the talents behind this year’s incredible line-up.
First up is Night at the Eagle Inn – a scary, fun riot of a film which has fraternal twins Sarah (Amelia Dudley) and Spencer (Taylor Turner) investigating the Inn where they were born and where their parents disappeared. It’s a really fun film – think The InnKeepers meets Scooby Doo.
We settled in for a cheerfully chaotic conversation with writer/director Erik Bloomquist, co-writer Carson Bloomquist and the stars of the film Amelia Dudley, Taylor Turner and Greg Schweers. Below is an edited and condensed version of our conversation.
I really loved the film. I thought it was so scary and funny. And it’s just an absolute riot. And it’s very punchy as well. I do love a speedy film. So Erik/ Carson, I was wondering how this project came about for you? And what was its journey to the screen like?
Erik/Carson – Sure. So we did another sort of fall movie last year in Vermont. And we got really inspired because it was on the property of this Inn that had been defunct for a few years now. And we got a tour of the property and it just gave us such an inspiration for sort of what the movie became. It felt very haunted when you went in there. So we went through different rooms and thought of different scenes and just sort of put something together that really spoke to us. And then went out and found Amelia and Taylor on the street.
I was going to ask how Amelia and Taylor became involved. I know you guys have worked together before.
Taylor – Yes- we played twins. In a previous show of Erik’s called The Cobblestone Corridor where we met like six years ago. We had a great rapport and Erik had previously shot this other film up in Vermont a few months prior and texted me and Amelia and was like “Hey, would you guys want to come to play creepy twins again, but like actually make it super creepy this time? We were like? Hell yeah! Yeah. So it was so fun. I jumped at the chance. Truly.
Greg – Your performance is amazing. I love it so much. How did you become involved?
So I worked with Erik, a couple of years ago. It was an original play, a musical, actually. And I played a creepy character. It was an abusive father type. And he was pretty creepy. So Erik remembered that performance. We had been Facebook friends. I saw he had shot a previous movie in Vermont. I sent him a text saying, “Hey, listen, I have a house in Vermont. near where you’re shooting. If you go up there again, let me know.” He got back in touch with me and said, yeah, we are going back up there again. And I think you might be right for one of these roles. So that’s how that all worked out. It was awesome. Great, fortuitous. Actually.
The whole film sort of struck me as having a Twilight Zone type vibe. Was it particularly inspired by any episodes or anything else that you’d watched?
I think that a quiet inspiration for a lot of what we do is anthology shows such as The Twilight Zone and Unsolved Mysteries. So yeah, I think that there are certainly similarities.
I love that the movie is both scary and silly. Greg you’re very scary at times. But the movie is also really funny. You’ve got Spencer, lusting after Dean, which is understandable. It reminded me of The InnKeepers meet Scooby Doo at the end when you’re trying to escape the haunted inn. I was wondering how you guys managed the tone as it zips between scary and silly so quickly.
Erik/Carson – The movie is really character-driven. It has really quirky leading characters, right? Like everybody sort of has an edge to them. But I would say figuring out what Greg was doing was probably the biggest calibration just because his character is so broad and we had to do some work making it as specific as it was. So if Greg if you want to touch on that?
Greg Schweers– Well the performance is certainly not subtle. I remember early on I thought “Well these two leads are obviously not from Vermont. And I was talking to Erik and said “I think it might be good to give this guy sort of a country vibe and work on the kind of the syntax of my character. And Erik was like “Yeah, that would be cool.” And I think it adds to the quirkiness and the weirdness of my guy. He’s so country. He’s been there for so long and he’s so isolated. And he’s just getting weirder every day. And we were on the same page there. And obviously, Carson and Erick you know, they finish each other’s sentences. So they’re on the same page, obviously. So I think it was a really collaborative project. I think everybody was on the same page. It just worked.
Taylor – For us I asked Amelia if she’d dye our hair and she said, Okay, and then we rolled in, and I don’t know, just sort of everybody’s game. And I think, you know the performances evolved while we’re doing it, too, and it morphed into new and unexpected places.
I wanted to ask about Taylor’s outfit because it was fabulous throughout. And I was wondering what your vision was for the character?
Taylor – Well, I mean, I have been looking for an excuse to bleach my hair, gay people famously bleach their hair when in crisis. And we were filming this at a time when infamously we were all in crisis. (They filmed during the pandemic) And I was perhaps not entirely sober one evening and called up Erik was like, Erik, I want to bleach my hair for this. I think it’d be great. And he’s like, yeah, like we could make that work. And then Amelia your hair is more of a natural blonde?
Amelia – Well blonde, blonde-ish. Well, Amish farm-like.
Taylor– When we worked together previously I had my hair dark and she was a blonde. So I thought it would be a fun little inversion. And we definitely had fun creating our own palates. For Spencer, we had this almost monochromatic, very washed out look. I remember Brianna, our makeup artist describing what she was doing, and she was like you know that rosy, pinkish look that makes you look like a living person? Yeah, we’re getting rid of all that. We went for a very pale look. It was a very heroin chic sort of vibe. Both Sarah and Spencer were strong but they’re both strung out in very different ways. Which I think, you know, makes sense considering their history and how they sort of came from this, you know, foster care background being shuffled in and out not really knowing where they were and where they come from. I think it kind of tracks with how they end up for sure.
Amelia, I was really interested that the characters seemed to have psychic abilities and that Sarah seemed to be very sensitive to the supernatural and I was wondering if that was just the Inn having an effect on her or whether she’d had those powers previously and whether Spencer had any powers himself?
Amelia – My envisioning of Sarah – I would say that she has less supernatural abilities and more of a sensitivity. It’s built into the character that she takes these sleeping pills. There is something kind of a little off in her brain and her mind and the Inn is where things kind of start to unravel a little bit because the place is so evil but I don’t know Taylor, I don’t recall us talking about if Spencer had any kind of sensitivities.
Taylor – I think the Inn is sensitive to her. Like she’s got her night terrors and she kind of has this affinity with a different plane of consciousness, whether it’s a good or a bad thing. So by being her twin, I think by proxy the Inn has an effect on Spencer but it’s mainly through her. And that’s why when they’re there he could feel that she was having a nightmare. I could tell that she was going through something. And so the Inn became a supernatural sort of wellspring in a sense. Like it attracts wayward souls, it has this supernatural energy about it, I think that probably heightens Sarah’s ability, which then explains how she has this ability to flip between being asleep and sort of trapped, like hypnotized by these dreams. And so that affinity I think gets heightened as the film goes on.
I wondered if the twins had some sort of psychic link, because the whole scene where she is trying to get the book, it’s just pure shenanigans, which I love. It’s just very Scooby-Doo which is wonderful.
Erik – I appreciate you saying that. We love some good shenanigans here at Mainframe Pictures.
So you filmed the movie during the pandemic What was that like?
Erik – We did in November 2020 and we went up to Vermont. There was no more than a dozen of us all in, cast and crew and we shot it in eight days and lived together in this little bubble. And we got her done. And it was weirdly very, very freeing. And, you know, just to disconnect from everything, just to do it for the sake of doing it.
The motel is definitely one of the main characters in the film. What was it like for you all to film there?
Taylor – Beau Minniear, who plays Dean has a story. There was a gym on the premises (of the Inn), which obviously he used often. So he was like “Okay, well, I’m going to go like, hit the gym, you know, get pumped, whatever.” Beau went and was working out and we all wrapped while he was there without knowing that he was still here working in the gym. There was no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi at the Inn either. And so he told us that he walked out of the gym and is like “Hey Guys” and there’s just nobody there, no lights, no nothing. And he’s like wandering these dark ass hallways. And feeling completely lost.
Greg – You know, it was a similar experience for me. One night after I wrapped I was with Carson. And I think it was at night and I made a wrong turn and went down the wrong hallway. And it was very dark and weird. And I’m like “Oh my god. How do I get out of here?” I was trying to be cool about it. But I really wasn’t actually, I just couldn’t wait to get out. I wasn’t sure where to go. Because I hadn’t been down that way before. So it was appropriately creepy. And it’s um, it’s really dark out in Vermont anyway. And now you had this big creepy hotel. I eventually found my way out of there. And I think I even made a wrong turn in my car leaving it was so dark. It was just really weird.
Where did you find the motel?
Erik– We have a friend who we spoke to when I was looking for a location for a romantic drama that we had done two months prior. We were looking for a place that could kind of house everybody. And we started talking and he let me know about a property that he’s associated with in Vermont. So we ended up doing the movie there. And when we got there he says “By the way, there’s a big Inn that’s not in operation nearby and we went to tour it. And so we went there the day before we started that movie, just to see if we wanted any locations from there. And I said, “This feels like a second movie. Can we do a second movie here?” And he was like “I don’t see why not”. So we talked to some people and just wrote a movie around the property. And I tend to do that a lot with Carson as we get inspired by locations and people and we write to those sensibilities. So the location was percolating in the back of our minds. We wrapped the other movie and we were on our way home and Carson did one last scan through at the end to get inspiration. So we pretty much started the Eagle Inn process there.
The film is now on the festival circuit, what’s been the reaction to it so far?
Erik – We’ve only played one but so far, so good. I think we’re gonna be accelerating for the next couple of months. But largely, I think the reaction is exactly what we were hoping for. It’s just a fun, spooky film and kind of has its own little original spin on a few different types of genres. And I think those were the goals that we were all talking about Taylor, Amelia, Greg, when we were on-site, right. It’s like, we just want it to be a no caveat, no good, fun flick. It’s cute but not in a diminutive way, but just, you know let’s make the best little thing as big as we can. And I’m proud of it. Yeah, I think we did it.
So what’s next for the film? And what’s next for all of you?
Erik – The films gonna play a bunch of fests over the next couple of months and do some theatrical screenings. And then we’re going to be on VOD in America and Canada. starting November 2. Then there will be a DVD/blu ray release domestically at some points in the months after. And then I think the world stuff will you know, trickle out from there, but I’m hopeful it will pop up in a bunch of places. I’m sure will pop up in the UK at some point.
Taylor – Amelia, Beau (Minniear) and I are going to Manchester for Grimmfest.
I’m really excited to see what people watch it in person. We were just sort of jumping at the chance to go anywhere. You know, I’m like, might as well do it now. Because who knows, in three months, it could all change and everything gets locked down again.
What projects are up next for all of you?
Taylor – Well, Erik and I have a very different project coming out later this year. It’s a Christmas movie that we wrote together and are both acting in. It’s a complete 180 from Eagle Inn and it’s called Christmas on the Carousel and it’s coming out in October. Very different audience very different vibe. But like you know it’s the same core group of people and still like a fun little romp. It’s also a punchy 70 minutes.
Erik/Carson– She Came From the Woods wrapped a few months ago and we have been editing our newest feature. We did a short a few years ago, and we adapted our screenplay into a full feature film version. It’s 1987, the last day of summer camp and some counsellors make some decisions that maybe they shouldn’t and bring about an old camp legend and it’s a lot of fun.
Greg, what about you?
I’m doing a play. Little Women I start rehearsing that in New York on Monday. I am playing the somewhat cantankerous Mr. Lawrence. I hope to work with Erik and everyone again, at some point in the future. Erik is the consummate actor’s director. I just want to get that quote out there. Because I think it looks good in print and also because Erik is awesome.
Amelia, what have you got up next?
Oh, well, besides attending the festival circuit. We have a screening in Philly soon which I’m very excited about that. And then, you know, I’m in New York, I’m adjusting. I’m starting to try my hand at writing a little bit, which is scary. But you know, just got to power through it and make it happen. And so trying new things.
Night at Eagle Inn next screens at Grimmfest