The latest release from Dread (formerly Dread Central Presents) is Dry Blood, a mysterious ghost story rich with fantastic practical effects, anxiety, and sadness. I was lucky enough to meet up with filmmakers Clint Carney and Kelton Jones at a local coffee shop, where we discussed their film, how they met, and of course, horror movies.
PopHorror: So, I wanted to know… Clint, how did you come up with the idea for Dry Blood?
Clint Carney: I write a lot, always writing scripts, and I had been wanting to tackle the idea of telling a ghost story from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, so you could be along for the ride from the point of view of the protagonist, who is unsure if what he’s seeing is real or not. I wanted to tell a ghost story where the audience is also in that seat, and then I had this idea of bringing in the cop character. I wanted to write a script where the audience is always on their toes and always questioning if what they saw was real or not, or just questioning whether or not things were happening the way they perceived it. Somewhat leave it open to interpretation. And that was how it started. I gave Kelton an early draft of the script to check out, and fortunately, he liked it. And so, we went forward with it.
PopHorror: I have to say, it’s quite effective. And what made you want to star in your own film?
Clint Carney: I didn’t! (laughs) I had no intention of being in the movie at all. We had started the pre-production process, and we hadn’t cast it yet, and Kelton had suggested that I star in the role. (To Kelton) Why did you cast me?
Kelton Jones: Well, we talked quite a bit about who our ideal cast was, and neither one of us had planned to be in it. We wanted to get the best people we could possibly get our script to, and talking about it and getting into the depth of the meaning, it’s a very dense story and a very dense character. There’s a lot of things that go into that character that aren’t on screen, because it’s stuff that happens before to build who he is. And the conversations with Clint was like, “You know this character really well,” and Clint’s like, “Uhhh, I’m not an actor.” But I’d seen him. I did a music video for him that I’d shot that was really cool. So I’d seen him acting the video, and I knew from his music career that he was amazing on stage and had this incredible stage presence, so I was like, “You can totally do this,” and he’s like, “Okay, but if I suck, you have to replace me.” So that was the caveat of it. And we started playing with it, and yeah, he could totally do this.
Clint Carney: And then as revenge, I told him he had to be the cop. I don’t want to give spoilers away, but let’s just say there’s this very gruesome scene involving the cop that wasn’t nearly as gruesome as originally scripted. And Kelton’s requirement for playing the role was that it be the way it is on screen.
PopHorror: Kelton, how was it to pull double duty as the director and the cop?
Kelton Jones: It was really fun, but it was very manic; it was kind of insane. It was really hard to judge how you’re doing as an actor when you’re performing. Like, you’ve got to give that trust up to the director. So in that case, I was like, “I don’t know! How’d that look? Did you believe it?” It was actually a huge help that we had an actual sheriff’s deputy that was our technical adviser. So whenever we would do a scene, I would ask him, “Did that look like a cop?”
Clint Carney: That’s my dad, by the way.
Kelton Jones: He was our weapons master and our technical adviser to make sure the procedure that the cop follows is actually police procedure, everything from lining up the buttons to checking the trunk when you come up to a car, which is something that nobody is going to notice, but if a police officer saw it and you walk up to a car without checking the trunk, they’re going to go, “He’s not a cop.”
Clint Carney: It’s a fantastic story in terms of having a lot of surreal qualities, but we wanted to ground it in reality so we wanted all of the small details like that.
PopHorror: Clint, I read that you’re a musician as well, and Kelton mentioned it, too. And that Rob Galluzzo [who played Clerk] is wearing one of your band’s shirts. What made you want to become a filmmaker?
Clint Carney: I was a filmmaker before I was a musician, actually. Technically, when I was a kid, I’d make films all the time. I didn’t get into music until after that, so it was always something that I wanted to do, although for a number of years, I just put filmmaking on hold to focus on my music career. I was a touring musician for a number of years, and toured all over and released a bunch of albums and things like that. And then, I just got to the point where I wanted to stay at home in LA, and I started working more in the film industry. I met Kelton, and the timing came up, and it felt right to get back into film and finally make a feature.
PopHorror: How did you two meet?
Kelton Jones: Clint had actually put together a writing group, and I had actually been part of another group that joined together and in reading the scripts, I read a script that Clint had written called The Violent that was like a punk rock ’90s teen drama, a crime drama. It was fantastic.
PopHorror: That sounds right up my alley.
Kelton Jones: Oh, it was so good! It’s such an amazing script. I read it and I was like, “Dude, we could shoot this right now. We could do this like ourselves, and we could cast like real punks and down and dirty and just shoot it!” And so we started talking to people, and suddenly, bigger name people wanted to be involved, and suddenly, we could get a cameo from this well-known punk singer, and let’s get this person and this person. Suddenly, it went from something that we were going to kind of do and finance ourselves, to something that was like, “Woah! We’re talking A LOT of money.”
And once we started looking into licensing, because we really wanted to be able to use all of the songs that were really important to us growing up, that was going to get prohibitively expensive to do for our first film. And so we wanted to do something, and that’s how we ended up doing this. We wanted to do something that we could make without having to spend an outrageous amount of money, but do very, very well.
Clint Carney: So hopefully, we can move on and do bigger and better things.
Kelton Jones: We still want to make that movie because it’s frickin’ awesome. Such a good script.
Clint Carney: Yeah, cut our teeth on a smaller film and scope at least.
PopHorror: That still sounds amazing. If you weren’t making movies, what do you think you’d be doing?
Kelton Jones: Making movies. I have no life skills other than filmmaking.
Clint Carney: I do make movies, but I also still work in the music industry, and I am a questionably fine artist. I’m an oil painter, and I show at a lot of galleries around the world, so I guess I would just do more of that stuff. Really weird stuff, though. If you liked Dry Blood, you might like my art. There’s some parallels.
Kelton Jones: I worked on my first movie when I was 16, and it’s all I’ve ever done. Once you’ve fallen in love with it, it’s impossible to do other jobs. You do them temporarily, but film always pulls you back. It’s in your blood.
PopHorror: If you had any advice for any new filmmakers, what would that be?
Kelton Jones: Don’t ask permission. Ask for permission to shoot, but don’t ask for permission to make a movie.
Clint Carney: Don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s okay to make a movie. If you’ve got it in you, and you want to make it, just do it. Find a way, and start shooting. The first thing that you shoot doesn’t have to be gold. You can make art in any form. You can make films and not release them, if they’re not up to snuff, but the only way you’re going to get good is by doing. So, just make it.
Kelton Jones: Make movies and show them to people that you trust, and make sure they tell you what’s wrong with them so that you get better.
Clint Carney: Listen to advice, have a thick skin, and be able to take insults for what they are, as constructive criticism. And be prepared to spend any free money you have on film gear.
PopHorror: And one last question, what’s your favorite scary movie?
Clint Carney: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to say of all time, probably Dawn of the Dead, the original. But I also am very partial to Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Kelton Jones: That’s so tough, because there’s so many. Probably Alien, because I love monster horror.
We want to send a great big thank you to both Clint Carney and Kelton Jones for taking the time to chat with us. Keep it tuned to PopHorror for more news on their upcoming projects!