…SOMETIMES HELL ISN’T A PLACE OF FIRE….
Recently I had the pleasure of catching up with my old friend Michelle Romano who I 1st met in 2009 when Shallow Graves Magazine was on set of the movie “BEG” in Rockland, MA. Michelle has accomplished a lot over the last 5 years both in front of and behind the camera, with one of her most recent projects “MALUS” due to begin production in early 2015. “NEVER OPEN THE DOOR TO A LESSER EVIL, FOR OTHER AND GREATER ONES INVARIABLY SLINK IN AFTER IT” – BALTASAR GRACIANSYNOPSIS: An unstable War Veteran and his hopeful wife move to a secluded house in the woods to start a family, have a new beginning; but trauma is a tough wound to heal, and it loves to bleed.
In 2007, award-winning actress and producer Michelle Romano auditioned for the lead role of Jeanie Simmonds in Steve Sherrin’s original screenplay, “The New House”. After two auditions and a final call back, Romano was subsequently offered the role. “It was an exciting process,” Romano recalls. “I first auditioned in Boston, and was then invited to attend a call back in New York City. It wasn’t long after that, I received a call and was offered the role. It was a dream come true.” At the time, Romano had been working on several horror genre films, and was looking for a project with a bit more substance. “I fell in love with this story, and the relationship between my character (Jeanie) and her husband (Mark). I knew that if this film was produced well, it could potentially set itself apart from the typical horror genre films, and that is what motivated me to fight for the role.” Around the time of the housing market crisis, “The New House” was put on hold indefinitely due to issues securing financing. Romano, determined to move forward and bring her own projects to life, subsequently stepped behind the scenes as a producer, formed her own production company, Roman Media, Inc., and raised funds to bring her first feature film to life, a dark drama titled “Milwood”. Jumping ahead to 2012, with “Milwood” fully produced and earning film laurels on the festival circuit, Romano turned her focus back to “The New House”. A short while later, upon visiting a friend at his newly inherited cabin in the woods of upstate New York, Romano immediately recognized the location as a perfect setting for the film. “I tracked down Steve Sherrin (the writer) again for the first time in several years, and I was secretly hoping that he still had me in mind to play Jeanie.” But before Romano could even ask, Sherrin asked her to not only play the part, but to take over the project as a producer, and start from scratch if she deemed it necessary. “I was so excited to hear that we were finally going to make this movie happen, and that Steve trusted me to play the lead role as well as produce the film under my Roman Media banner.”
Romano dove in head first and immediately began fielding writers to make her vision become reality. “A lot has been done in cinema within the last seven years, particularly with respect to the thriller and horror genres. I wanted to stay true to the original story, even while giving the project a fresh spin to keep the audience actively engaged. The most crucial aspect of this story for me, is the relationship between the characters, and the experiences that they are forced to endure together. It ended up taking multiple writers and several full re-writes to finally get the script to where it is now, but it has been well worth the time and energy.” “The writers who have devoted their time to this project through various incarnations are extremely talented, and they have each brought valuable ideas and interpretations to the table.” However, it was Andrew Saxsma’s brand new version, accompanied by a new title, “Malus”, that really sparked the interest of the man who created the story, Steve Sherrin. “It was extremely important for me to earn Steve’s support for this latest version of the script, and I was so happy when I received word from him that he loved this new version. He actually sent me a text message saying ‘I am so happy I could cry’.”
Romano soon crossed paths with the co-director of photography for “Insidious”, Dave Brewer, and was introduced to him while working as an associate producer on another film project in which Brewer was involved. “It was all meant to be,” Romano gushes about meeting Brewer. “He is one of the sweetest, most talented people I have ever met, and I know that we are going to have a long-lasting, successful partnership for years to come.”
Romano finally earned the opportunity to work with Brewer on her latest film project, “Grit”, in which she produced and stars alongside Casper Van Dien (“Starship Troopers”). “I spoke to Ilan Srulovicz, writer/director/producer of “Grit”, and we agreed that we just had to have Brewer on-board for this project. I am so happy that his schedule allowed for it.” Moving forward, with Brewer on-board for “Malus”, and an incredible location secured in the woods of upstate New York, Romano is officially in pre-production on this upcoming psychological thriller with physical production intended for early 2015. Check out MALUS on IMDb.
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