P O W E L L, W y o. - A screenwriter/director and a music composer, both with Park County roots, team up to launch the spring 2008 Northwest College Writers Series Friday, Feb. 1, in Room 70 of the Fagerberg Building on campus.
Former Codyites Andrew Wiest, a Northwest College alum, and Tim Schoessler, NWC's music program pianist, will hold an open discussion at 4 p.m. about their experiences working on "Dead Noon," a soon-to-be-released movie that's predicted to become a cult hit. They'll talk about movie production, writing and scoring.
The Writers Series audience later in the evening will be treated to a director's cut of the film as a Rosebud Film Group presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session with the two men. The movie showing starts at 7:30 p.m. in Room 70 of the Fagerberg Building.
Wiest directed and co-wrote what he calls a "modern day western/horror/action/drama/comedy/supernatural thriller about an outlaw who meets his demise in the late 1800s, spends the next 100 years or so in hell, beats the devil in a game of poker and in doing so is able to return to earth with his posse of the undead to finally finish off the bloodline of the man who sent him to hell in the first place."
According to Wiest, his supernatural retelling of the 1952 movie "High Noon" borrows stylistically from Quentin Tarantino and Richard Rodrigeuz. The trailer uses this language: "It's Sam Raimi meets Sam Peckinpah. It's Dawn of the Dead meets High Noon. It's Dead Noon!"
In an interview for d3rang3d.com, a horror movie Web site, Wiest said he likes to think of it as the most epic $4,000 movie ever made. "I'm a huge fan of Westerns," Wiest said. "That I was born in Montana and raised in Wyoming (graduated from Cody High School in 1997) no doubt adds to the Western perspective... but I think the style is more the result of making a movie for absolutely no money and using creativity to solve problems rather than, as Richard Rodriguez would say, 'using the money hose to flush problems away.'"
Wiest shot most of "Dead Noon" in Cody at Old Trail Town. Additional scenes were filmed in Kalispell, Mont., and Douglas, Wyo. as part of a class he taught there. The cast members, who traveled from Los Angeles for the filming, were also in Wiest's first movie, "Pizza, Pesos, and Pistoleros."
The filming was shot in several installments from January 2006 through Oct 2007. In May 2007, before production was even finished, the movie was bought by Barnholtz Entertainment. In August Wiest received a call from Barnholtz saying they "think they may have a cult hit on their hands and don't want to miss the chance at something big." Shortly afterward, Barnholtz teamed with Lionsgate Entertainment to distribute "Dead Noon" worldwide in 2008.
Despite the movie's graphic violence, Wiest said, "I love the horror genre because it's one of the few genres where you can explore religious ideas. The nature of good and evil, the concept of God and Satan, the fall of man, afterlife, redemption. Many of the great horror movies have had Christian themes. In a strange way, horror films are the most morally rigid films made. You sin, you die. Them's the rules." He adds that the movie is not intended to be an overtly Christian movie, but because he is a Christian himself, those beliefs "are going to find their way into anything I do."
In addition to his two feature-length films, Wiest has also directed and filmed several music videos and short films. He got his start pretty early, first by watching movies at his grandfather's drive-in theatre and then making his own as a 13-year-old when his mother, a school librarian, would bring the school's VHS camera home on weekends so he could film and then edit his work between two VCRs.
Wiest called on Tim Schoessler to contribute to the "Dead Noon" musical score. Known on the NWC campus as a "classical pianist by day and heavy metal guitarist by night," Schoessler contributed to the movie's music in two ways. First he offered songs from the last CD produced by his band, "Settled in Silence." Three of those were chosen for the movie soundtrack: "Space" "Glass Rain" and "Grey Arms Wave Goodbye." An alternate version of "Space," from an earlier CD, is also included in the film.
In addition, Wiest asked Schoessler to work on the musical score, offering alternatives in a few places he wasn't comfortable with yet. Along with his request, Wiest sent an early version of the movie so Schoessler could time his music to the visual action.
Most of the score elements Schoessler composed were to accompany action scenes where the zombies were getting their due from the people they had come to do in. Wiest told him the song that came to mind for a particular scene, and Schoessler would listen to it as he watched the video. He used the tempo and the drum beat as a take-off point as he started the process of creating something new and different. Schoessler spent two days in the studio with his guitar and keyboard to come up with five-six minutes of musical score.
After the film was picked up by Lionsgate, Schoessler said Hollywood professionals were brought in to mix the score, so he's not sure how much, if any, of his work will make it to the final cut.
Unlike Wiest, who was self-taught, Schoessler earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Wyoming before joining the Northwest College Music Department. He's played guitar and listened to heavy metal music for the past seven years and started his first band in 2003 while he was a student in Laramie.
Because "Dead Noon " hasn't been released yet, the Web site still features only limited information. Click on any of the following to see trailers from the director's cut, reviews and awards the movie has already garnered - Blue Collar Flicks , Dead Noon the Movie , or Blue Collar Pictures .
Admission to this NWC Writers Series and Rosebud Film Group cooperative presentation is free of charge.