Dead by Dawn Interview: Sean Cain On Mastering A 12-Day Feature Shoot

Recently I spoke to the director of the new indie horror film Dead by Dawn: Sean Cain. The director and I discuss his new film as well as the changes to the visual landscape in LA during the Corona-virus. This interview was conducted on March 18.  Dead by Dawn is available on DVD now.

Here’s the synopsis for Dead by Dawn:

A suicidal man in a remote cabin is suddenly faced with protecting a kidnapped woman from three sexual deviants and their sadistic games.

LRM: All right. On behalf of LRM I’d like to thank you for taking time out for this interview today.

Sean Cain: Of course. So how are you doing, how are you holding on there with all this stuff happening?

LRM: I’m adjusting. You got to get used to these new store hours.

Sean Cain: I know. But nothing in the store.

LRM: Exactly, right? Yeah. Oh my God. No bread or water, toilet papers and things. I never thought that hand sanitizer would be such a hard thing to come by.

Sean Cain: I know. Isn’t it crazy?

LRM: Yeah, it was everywhere just a month ago. And now it’s nowhere to be found.

Sean Cain: I know. I have one little bottle here and that’s about it.

LRM: Oh man, I bet you’re holding onto that.

Sean Cain: Yeah, I know. It’s like gold.

LRM: Right? Once it gets halfway empty you could add some water to it, fill it back up.

Sean Cain: Right. Exactly.

LRM: So, what about yourself?

Sean Cain: So far so good. I saw this coming, so I was slowly stockpiling goods, stuff for a couple of weeks and so we’re okay right now.

LRM: Oh good, good. Yeah.

Sean Cain: Yeah.

LRM: Looks like we’re going have this going on for quite a while. I mean, hopefully not but things are shutting down. Schools are closing.

Sean Cain: I know. But hopefully it doesn’t get any worse.

LRM: Yeah, I hope not. I hope everybody can gather again by the summer at least.

Sean Cain: I know. Exactly.

LRM: Where are you at today?

Sean Cain: I’m in North Hollywood.

LRM: Oh, nice.

Sean Cain: Just out in LA, yeah.

LRM: Okay.

Sean Cain: How about you?

LRM: I’m in Hampton Roads near the Virginia Beach area. If you’re all set, I’d like to go ahead and get into the questions.

Sean Cain: Sure. That sounds great.

LRM: Awesome. Can you tell me, for our readers here, what’s Dead by Dawn? What is it about?

Sean Cain: Yes. What is it about? It basically starts about a guy who goes up to his remote cabin and we can tell by the pictures on the wall that he’s a family man, but he goes there, no family, and something is off about him. We’re not quite sure what, until he puts a gun in his mouth and he’s about to blow his brains out. But then he hears outside, this screaming and he runs outside to find out what’s going on and he finds this young girl that’s practically comatose.

Something really bad has happened to her and he brings her inside and he’s trying to find out what’s going on, and how he can help, when there’s a knock at the door and there’s three people outside and they’re like, “Oh my God, we got into this horrific car accident and our sister, she’s autistic and she ran through here. Have you seen her?” And the man looks at them and they don’t have a scratch on them.

And he just gets instantly suspicious and he tells him, “You guys, I want you to wait at the edge of my property, I’m going to call the Rangers and we’ll find out what’s going on.” So that sort of sets off a chain of events where the good guy versus the bad guys, with the bad guys trying to get into the cabin and then take him out to-

LRM: Interesting. Sounds like a little bit of Misery, Stephen King vibe a little bit.

Sean Cain: Yeah. They’re a bunch of dirty birds.

LRM: Yeah. Nice, nice. How did you become involved with Dead by Dawn?

Sean Cain: Well, basically, I’ve been making movies over the years and I’m really grateful for all the opportunities that I’ve gotten. They weren’t always necessarily the stories that I really wanted to tell. And I was talking to a friend of mine about that and he had recently come into some money and he was, out of the blue, “Hey, you want to make a movie?”

LRM: Isn’t that great?

Sean Cain: Yes. So, my buddy Eric, who is the executive producer, basically put up the money and wanted to make a movie with me and so that’s how this got started.

LRM: Nice. Nice. So, it sounds like a bit of serendipity involved with getting the project made?

Sean Cain: Absolutely, yeah. It’s funny you get these calls out of the blue to work on things and after all the work you put in to try and get this going and that going and then it’s just these calls out of the middle of nowhere that really-

LRM: Yeah, it seemed like that’s a-

Sean Cain: … push it forward.

LRM: Yeah, you’re working, slugging away on a variety of passion projects and whatnot and … that’s amazing. What was the production process like beyond that? You then assume made after you found out that you had a budget like that?

Sean Cain: Well, I’ve produced a couple of these lower budgeted films and so it’s just really me, and I got my wife to help me with casting and my friend Linda Slade was helping me produce and we just started putting a casting call out. We were fortunate to have a location to begin with so we knew that was there in place, and just started looking for the actors and that’s how we came across Jamie Bernadette. And we liked her a lot and she was one of the first people to be cast and then she was so helpful with the casting process, everything. She jumped on board as a producer also. And so-

LRM: Awesome.

Sean Cain: It’s just really one step at a time. There’s a certain logistics you have to put together to make a movie. Nothing super glamorous but getting certain things in place and that’s just what we slowly went away and went about doing, because we didn’t have a timeline. We weren’t under some kind of deadline.

LRM: Okay.

Sean Cain: So, we just did our thing until we were ready to pull the trigger and then we shot the thing in 12 days.

LRM: 12 days.

Sean Cain: I know, isn’t it crazy?

LRM: That’s a tight schedule.

Sean Cain: Yes, it is. But most of these movies I’ve done, even the more expensive ones, I’ve only gotten 12 days to shoot those as well.

LRM: Wow. Okay. That’s quite a skill to have to even turn something around in 12 days. That’s awesome. Well, congratulations on getting the film made.

Sean Cain: Thank you. Thank you.

LRM: Yeah. When can we tell the readers at LRM to expect maybe to check it out?

Sean Cain: Well the film comes out on DVD and streaming on April 7th so just got to be some avenue, some venue that you could buy it, either Amazon, or I think it’s coming out to Family Video. Unfortunately, not as many video stores these days, but definitely for the people in the Midwest and stuff, Family Video store, a pretty good chain and yeah, the different streaming sites.

LRM: And let me ask you, what is on your horizon next? Are there any future projects that you’d like to tell the readers of LRM to keep an eye out for?

Sean Cain: Well, the next project that I would like to do is based on a short story. I don’t want to say too much, it’s a pretty insane story, but that’s what I’m hoping, so as soon as we get our money back from this one, we’re going to jump ahead and start going full force into this next one, which is another horror, another crazy horror film.

LRM: That’s great.

Sean Cain: Yeah.

LRM: Yeah. Well keep us in the loop with that. I will be sure to share the interview link and the review link to the film as well. So, you have that.

Sean Cain: Thank you.

LRM: You’re welcome. And is there anything else that you want to tell our readers about?

Sean Cain: No, just try to support physical media, man, that’s … unfortunately physical media is not doing as well as it used to and it really hurts filmmakers of these movies, not to have those avenues to go with DVD’s.

LRM: We’ll be sure to pass that word along and hopefully some folks pay collect. It’s an awesome thing to do.

Sean Cain: Right, yeah.

LRM: Well, Sean, it was great speaking to you today. Thank you for taking time out for the interview-

Sean Cain: Of course.

LRM: And have a great day, all right?

Sean Cain: All right. You too and stay safe. Thank you.

LRM: Yeah, likewise. Thanks.

Sean Cain: Okay. All right.

LRM: Bye.

Sean Cain: Bye.

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