Local Film Tackles a Health Issue in the Horror Genre

Local Film Tackles a Health Issue in the Horror Genre

Filmmaker shot scenes in spots up and down Potomac River.

Filmmaker Michael Taylor, in the red hat, taking a break on the set with Joey Collins from Arlington and Ena O'Rourke who plays Carol in the movie.

Filmmaker Michael Taylor, in the red hat, taking a break on the set with Joey Collins from Arlington and Ena O'Rourke who plays Carol in the movie.

In Michael Taylor’s horror film, “There is a Monster,” lots of scenes were filmed around Alexandria and Mount Vernon, where he lived for a while honing his filmmaking career that landed him in the entertainment limelight for the last few years. In this latest production, he filmed scenes at the Southside 815 restaurant, Bradlee Medical Center, and a house in Great Falls to tell a story that is indirectly about a real-life disease that haunts many including his sister, who died of the disease.

In the world of “spoiler alerts,” he didn’t want to give away too much before audiences get a chance to sit on the edge of their seats, so he threw out a teaser. “A man is haunted by a monster that only he can see,” Taylor said. This monster affects his speech and then spreads to his whole body. “My sister had this disease and it killed her,” he said.

Powdering the nose of Arlington resident Joey Collins takes the shine off when the camera lights are on.The filming process for “Monster,” started in December 2021 and he’s just about through with all the post-production work before it hits the film festival circuit and possibly more. The pandemic got in the way a few times but the crew persevered. “There’s always a market for horror films,” he said.

The actors came from around this area and the Screen Actor’s Guild. “Most of my actors are from Virginia,” he said, mentioning Prince William County and from Maryland too. The lead actor, Joey Collins, lives in Arlington and has been seen in the latest theater version of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Broadway. In Mockingbird, Collins plays the character of villain Bob Ewell in the trial. In addition to being in several Broadway hits in his career, Collins recently volunteered with Arlington Public Health as a COVID-19 vaccine greeter, where he used his acting skills to calm people getting the vaccine.



Silver Screen Stops and Starts

Taylor’s filmmaking career has some stops and starts that is common in the industry, so he keeps his skill alive making commercials. He’s done things for the Veterans Health Administration, the Army National Guard, the Virginia Railway Express, Alexandria Pastry Shop and the Navy Federal Credit Union where he directed a national campaign. “The commercials paid the bills,” he said.

At the Alexandria Pastry Shop in the Fairlington area, scenes of the pastry chefs, cakes and flowing coffee jump right off the screen. “There’s a place nearby with fresh made deliciousness,” the commercial voice-over says.


Pandemic Pandemonium

Filming during the pandemic had its challenges, but “we wrapped up right before Omicron arrived,” he said. At one point in early Covid days, toilet paper was scarce so he focused on that. “During the pandemic I did a film about a guy that was out of toilet paper,” he said. It was called “Making Do,” and follows the guy around the house looking for a spare piece of tissue, with his pants around his ankles. Nothing R rated, but it colorfully deals with a situation that everybody has faced one time or another.

In the film industry, before anyone will look at a film you’ve made, they have to see something that has already been successful, which creates a certain quandary that haunts artists and others along the way. You have to have experience before anyone gives you the chance to get experience. With a need to attract investors, Taylor has experienced the same. “You’ve got to make a film before you can make a film,” he said.

Presently, he’s juggling around four different scripts that may see the light of day sometime in the future.

“There is a Monster,” is having a premiere screening on March 20 at the AMC Shirlington 7.