I’ve said it a few times before, but horror is by far my thing. I grew up watching horror films of all kinds, probably when I shouldn’t have, and it gave me a life-long love of the genre. So, when I hear alumni are working on projects that will make people scream in terror, my ears automatically perk up.

Andrew Kappel (MFA/Film and Television Producing ’12), who recently wrapped production on the film
, is one such alum.

From L to R: Andrew Kappel, Aaron Wolf of Howling Wolf, and actor Graham Greene

From L to R: Andrew Kappel, Aaron Wolf of Howling Wolf, and actor Graham Greene

is about a creature who lives within the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits – one that, once awakened, emerges to wreak havoc on the modern metropolis.

For 40,000 years, a long forgotten wetland teemed with ancient creatures, but now all that’s left is a pit of hot, sticky tar surrounded by a vast urban landscape. For Barry Greenwood and his son Zach, there’s not much left of their family business either. With the city’s subway expanding under their feet and their office building slated for demolition, Barry, Zach, and their employees are forced to shut down their shop and move out. Three family generations and three lifetimes of hard work to be turned to rubble.

But when something primal is awoken by the underground construction, a night of somber packing becomes a desperate fight for survival.

Kappel, who served as producer on the film, didn’t jump right into features after graduation, though. He first served as an Associate Producer on the paranormal reality show Ghost Bait for the BIO channel, before working as a Field Producer for Believe, the Criss Angel show set Las Vegas, for 13 weeks. That show later aired on Spike TV.

Kappel came aboard
when he helped out on a documentary last year for Howling Wolf Productions.

“I met the folks from Howling Wolf Productions last year when I came on board for a feature documentary they were doing called
Restoring Tomorrow
,” said Kappel. “I was an Associate Producer on that, pulling in several key elements of the film for them, including a drone operator, Production Designer, catering, and other key crew. I continued to work on a couple smaller projects for them until
came about in late January, early February. They asked me to produce it for them.”

They sent Kappel an early draft of the script, and he began to make a schedule for them. Pre-production started in the beginning of March, but he had several challenges he had to overcome.

On the set of TAR

On the set of TAR

“At that point, we had several holes in the crew and virtually no cast. I put together short lists of actors I thought we could get for the budget,” Kappel said. He spent several weeks negotiating with agents and managers to lock down that cast, and was able to pull in some great names, including Timothy Bottoms (
Last Picture Show
Paper Chase
), Graham Greene (
Dances With Wolves, The Green Mile
), and Max Perlich (
Blow, Maverick, Drugstore Cowboy

In addition to locking in the cast, Kappel also filled several key crew positions, including key makeup/SFX makeup artist, Costume Designer, Production Designer, PA’s and 2nd AD’s, and more.

“It’s no secret that the horror genre is a great business model and they have great upside in foreign markets,” said Kappel. The building Howling Wolf Productions was in was actually slated for demolition, as it is in the film, and they decided to capitalize on that for the setting of the film. “We were able to make a movie for much cheaper than we normally could. The tar pits are literally across the street, so what a great opportunity to make something unique and original.”

When looking back on his experience at Dodge, Kappel says that it gave him the skill set to be able to go in whatever producing direction he wanted.

On the set of TAR

“Dodge also gave me an endless pool of talented crew to call upon for any of my projects…. which I have done many times.  Dodge students always make me look good with their professionalism and professional quality of work.”

When asked for advice for current students, Kappel said:

“Just stick with it. It’s not always easy, in fact, it never is. There will be times when it’s hard to find work and you feel like giving up and finding something that’s more steady. But if you keep hustling and making connections, eventually something will hit.”

For more information on TAR, check out the
Howling Wolf Productions website,
and be sure to check them out at SCREAM FEST, the biggest horror film festival in the country, in October.