Hollywood drummer tries his hand at filmmaking with horror short

Quinn undertaking what he does greatest, enjoying a unusual percussion instrument, here in his brief movie “The Maine Horror Faculty: The Phantom Lance.” Photograph courtesy of W.F. Quinn Smith

There’s a cliché contacting out to me as I publish about Maine-born musician and filmmaker W.F. Quinn Smith, but I’m likely to resist it as long as I can. (Hint: Smith, identified throughout his lengthy and profitable profession participating in songs for this sort of Hollywood films as “The Fighter,” “The Fantastic Dinosaur” and both “Addams Family” videos merely as Quinn, is an in-demand percussionist – who will make his individual distinctive instruments.)

So you may say that Quinn’s drumming and filmmaking career has, without a doubt, been… diverse.

“I’m a session person,” claimed Quinn, whose 3rd Maine-made limited film, ”The Maine Horror University: The Phantom Lance,” premieres on his YouTube channel Thursday. “Going where by it pays the expenditures. I do the job on nearly anything – Pixar, Amazon, Netflix. They ask for me when they will need one thing unusual.”

“The Maine Horror College: The Phantom Lance” is absolutely that, a 5-minute introduction to a firmly Maine-based mostly earth of supernatural perils and adventure that the musician and filmmaker sees as just the beginning. “It’s all shot in Newfield, at my and my neighbor’s location,” Quinn claimed of the eerie and propulsive shorter. “It’s about viewing what’s feasible, and what folks are fascinated in. From there, I’m pondering it could grow to be a serial-form YouTube display, a internet series. It’s kind of a proof of strategy.”

Nicely, I’m sold. “The Maine Horror School: The Phantom Lance” is a visually placing shorter film that serves Quinn’s aim of drawing viewers into his proposed Maine-established planet with immediacy and, yes, weirdness. The Maine woods are filtered in a half-animated type in which trees and water pulse and vibrate like not-however-dry oil paintings, as a younger girl in a tattered costume encounters a little something surprising at the time she – most likely expectedly, considering the director – performs a tune on a suspicious percussion instrument.

“The film sets up the premise that there is this Maine Horror University. It begins off with the president (Quinn himself) creating to convey to a college student (major actor and Bates School scholar May possibly Le) that she’s been approved. When she gets the information, it gets like an obstacle training course to arrive there – most of the learners rarely survive.”

Understandably, Quinn’s directorial possibilities are knowledgeable by his initial score, a two-tiered combine of jangling ominousness and thudding, percussive chase new music once the film’s protagonist realizes just how substantially threat she’s essentially in.

“We shot on a gorgeous Maine day, not that there have been many of all those this summer season,” mentioned Quinn. “So it commences off with ominous horror songs, but about a sunny day, with photographs of the lovely trees and river. The illustrations or photos and the tunes are indicating some thing various. Then, when the chase commences, it turns into much more percussive – even although there are sounds like strings, it is owing to this new instrument I created with string items that I play with chopsticks and springs. It is bought its have sonic and tonal excellent.”

Quinn describes his everyday living as an inveterate musical inventor, displaying photographs of his sprawling studio, named Spiritropolis, in Newfield, wherever common drums of each and every description jostle for house with 1-of-a-form Quinn creations bristling with objects culled from salvage yards and in other places.

“I go by shops and hit items,” mentioned Quinn. “I glance at things and imagine what type of audio it could make. It drives some associations ridiculous,” he laughed, introducing, “But it is about reinventing the wheel, constantly shifting ahead to see what is in advance of us, not what is carried out.” Listed here, Quinn laments all those occasions he’s absent into a scoring session for a movie or Television show only to be introduced with a “temp track” – picked out from other movies he’s labored on. As the self-proclaimed “indie drummer” stated, “When you have this unrestricted audio palette in entrance of you, you want to make the most of much more things.”

Quinn, who’s released a whopping 24 solo albums of ambitious, percussion-forward music and performed with observed artists like Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, Daft Punk and Janelle Monáe, describes his forays into filmmaking as just one more imaginative innovation.

“I generally attempt to keep energetic,” claimed Quinn, “I grew up in Previous Orchard Seashore and invested 34 a long time in L.A. just before building my way back to Maine to support out my folks during the pandemic. Filmmaking is me branching out – it retains your chops refreshing. Plus, it implies conference people today in Maine who can act and who can do things for you. I really desired to provide Maine into it.”

As for why Maine seemingly and inevitably equals horror, Quinn, who hopes to lure Maine horror icon Stephen King to Newfield for a walkthrough of Spiritropolis’ a lot of musical wonders, promises that it just type of worked out that way. “My career trajectory noticed me functioning on the ‘Addams Family’ films, the place I had to uncover the exact variety of terrifying the filmmakers wanted – for Wednesday, is it metallic? watery? picket? It is not like I’m a horror aficionado for each se, but horror allows you to grow your palette. Normally, they throw me beneath, when they want anything weirder and additional unique.”

As for the Maine of Quinn’s developing cinematic universe, the filmmaker is psyched to get the job done with the incredibly deep effectively of neighborhood expertise.

“There are a good deal of theater folks, and they are doing work day positions, undertaking unpaid theater, and they are all so good,” stated Quinn. “Finding actors is a whole new detail for me. The folks here are additional concerned, usually asking, ‘How can we do more?’ My lead actress is from Bates, and she’s a very gifted violinist as perfectly. I want to faucet into these theater people and aid make this group and see what we can preserve building.”

For now, Quinn’s approach is to maintain erecting his fictional Maine Horror School in succeeding installments, with a lot more and a lot more unsuspecting college students of the occult striving – and usually failing – to make their way to his Maine’s heart of darkness. Meanwhile, Quinn is generally hard at get the job done at Spiritropolis, cobbling alongside one another junkyards’ really worth of abandoned factors in search of just the proper note.

You can learn a lot more about W.F. Quinn Smith’s operate by next @quinnmusician on Instagram, and see the initially of, we hope, several Newfield-designed Maine horrors, “The Maine Horror University: The Phantom Lance” at @Quinnmusician on YouTube.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his spouse and cat.

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