Friday, March 4, 2011

"Dawn" by Jay Reel

Tell Me About Your Movie isn't a review site, but I'd be remiss if I didn't say how much I enjoy and admire Jay Reel's Dawn, a unique, low-budget, character-based take on vampirism. Very happy to see Jay share his story with us here:
I based the screenplay of Dawn on a short story I wrote in September of 2000. At the time, the idea was to write a "journal" of sorts, with entries made in real time, set on the dates they were written. The final entry was to be on my birthday (12th). It didn't quite work out that way, and I finished the story several days early. The "journal" was written by a man, who was relating the day-to-day struggle of living on the road, homeless, with his young daughter, who just happened to be a vampire. She was around 8 years old in the story and was a living creature, in that she had a heartbeat and could die like any human. I kept some of the vampire attributes of legend (unnatural strength, empathic abilities) and eliminated others (no "allergies" to the sun or crosses). Ultimately, the human father and his "special" daughter come a rather tragic end.

In adapting the short story to feature length, I needed to add some elements of danger, that wasn't there in the original version. Now, there was a man pursuing Dawn and her father, who knew of the girl's vampire origins. The ending of the movie is very similar to the short story, but otherwise the mood is much more somber. This really isn't a horror movie, but rather a story of two misfits, struggling to survive in the world. I was influenced by certain "road movies" I appreciated throughout my life, about characters on the run and trying to eke out a living. Jim Jarmusch's Down By Law, Paper Moon, Of Mice and Men, etc. In this case, Dawn's vampirism is like a disability that separates her from society in general. Otherwise, she's a normal little girl, with all the aspirations and hopes of any child her age. The father is like any caring parent, who would do anything to protect and provide for his child.

Dawn was shot during the summer of 2002, with Ray Boucher portraying the father (John), 10-year-old Kacie Young was Dawn, and Mindy Raymond as the mother. The mother's story is told during an unusually long flashback (20 minutes!) that culminates in her death, while giving birth to Dawn. I "acted" as Carlton Reed, the psychic "bloodhound" who is pursuing Dawn.

Dawn premiered in Dallas, at the Angelika Film Center, in August of 2003. J.R. Bookwalter (The Dead Next Door) picked up Dawn for DVD distribution through his Tempe Video label in 2006. It is available for sale through, and several other online retailers. It can be rented via as well.

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