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Buffalo director’s much-buzzed horror film arrives on DVD

Horror aficionados have been buzzing for months about a haunted-house film called “Dwelling." Now, the feature from Buffalo writer-director Kyle Mecca can be purchased nationwide as part of a Walmart exclusive DVD release.

The movie about a couple that moves into a haunted house in an attempt to contact the other side will then be released on Sept. 26 to retailers including Amazon, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble.

Mecca shot “Dwelling” at locations throughout the area, including the former Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital), and cast several well-known local actors, in addition to horror vets like Erin Marie Hogan and Devanny Pinn. The director sees the film as a “call-back to classic, tension-filled slow burns of the '70s, when horror wasn’t about the ‘jump scare’ factor.”

The concept for the film came from his grandfather who used to tell Mecca stories while he was in elementary schools. "For years the one that stuck out was a story involving a mirror painted black. The image in my mind had always been intriguing and hauntingly beautiful. But the thing was, he never finished that story. I always felt that it was my job," Mecca said.

"I plucked from my own past, experiences from my mother and other various sources in the paranormal community. I wanted a great deal of our tale to be grounded, or at least until I needed to pull the rug from underneath you."

Here's more of our interview.

Question: “Dwelling” dropped on DVD this week as a Walmart exclusive. Does that feel like the culmination of years of hard work?

Answer: I can finally exhale. The film was developed and fundraised in early 2014, principal photography was summer 2014, then we entered a period of almost two years of post-production and further fundraising and campaigning for distribution.

We’ve made it. “Dwelling” is going to be seen and criticized by the world, and no matter the reception, I feel I accomplished what it means to be a filmmaker. I made a film.

Q: What was the process in gaining national distribution?

A: Distribution was achieved through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) and the process of gaining distribution is a long and agonizing process. You need to keep your hot leads alive, stay connected and pray for miracles. We were very fortunate to know someone with close ties and had built a relationship with the company.

As a result we were able to get a screener of our film in front of the right people. They must have seen something that they liked, because now we're out there for the world to see.

Q: There are so many Buffalo elements with “Dwelling,” from the cast and crew to the locations. What part did Buffalo play in the making of the film?

A:
Simply put, “Dwelling” wouldn’t have been made without the film community in Buffalo. There’s Matthew A. Nardone, our director of photography, and Steven Mark Borowski, our composer. There’s the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission’s fearless leaders, Rich Wall and Tim Clark.

Plus, there are the local businesses that gave us access to their own dwellings. Then there are our own families and loved ones, and the local acting talent that shined for us. “Dwelling” is Buffalo.

I knew that I didn’t need to go to New York City or Los Angeles to make this, I knew I didn’t need a glamour budget to make the film I wanted to make, and I knew that all the resources to make a dream come true had been in front of me all along.

Q: Who are some of the local actors in the cast? Josie DiVincenzo is a biggie, I know.

A: Bill Brown, a local legend already in the Buffalo film industry, he made it debut into acting into his 70s and now has over a dozen roles under his belt. Including as a featured juror in "Marshall," as well a supporting role in Mac Cappuccino's "Malaisa."

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Abigail Mary, our young lead that played our Izzy. With only under a handful of school plays to her name, she came to us because of her mom, Tina. Tina claimed Abi was this character we were looking for, someone so in touch with the paranormal that it would be second nature, and she was.

After a quick audition and amazing conversation, we knew we had our Izzy. Others from Buffalo included Alexandria Merritt Matthews, Emma Stablewski, Makenzy Glover and Fattie King as our malevolent spirit.

Q: You recently worked on William Fichtner’s “Cold Brook.” What was your role with the production, and what was it like working with the Buffalo-born star turned director?

A:
We just completed principal photography; I was the second second assistant director to Bill. The opportunity to work with him was absolutely tremendous. As a kid from Buffalo with eyes on the Hollywood prize, it only helped reinvigorate me. Here’s a beyond humble man that has been in the belly of the beast for years, yet still identifies with his roots.

Q: This was your first feature, but you already have an extensive resume. In addition to working on “Cold Brook,” what’s next for you?

A:
While I make my keep by working freelance in many different departments, I know that the release of “Dwelling” only marks my first steps as a writer and director. I’m currently writing a neo-noir thriller in vein of “Se7en” that might or might not have some supernatural elements to it. All I know now is that the next is on the horizon, and I hope there’s still more magic left.

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