When Denton actor Chance Gibbs repeatedly ran into difficulties landing roles amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he had ultimately decided it was up to him to make his acting dreams come true by establishing and starring in his own movie production. Little did he know, his future film “Amityville Cult” would land a nationwide distribution deal with the multinational retail chain Walmart.
Gibbs, alongside fellow “Amityville Cult” cast member Micha Marie Stevens and writer and director Trey Murphy, are the notable trio that manage the Denton-based movie production company Bar G Moving Pictures—named in honor of Gibbs’ long-standing family ranch in West Texas. Together they have created a variety of short films but hit their biggest break when they got in touch with independent film distribution company ITN Distribution last summer.
“I said to them ‘Hey, I want to make a film,’ because they had been to a film festival that a movie of mine was in and they had complimented my acting,” Gibbs said. “They said that they didn’t feel that the short film at the festival was something they would want to make into a feature film, but they said that they did want to work with me and Trey.”
And so, the “Amityville Cult” production began.
With a budget of just $7,500, Gibbs said that many careful decisions were made to help stay within the production’s means.
“Because we did run on such a small crew and a small budget, we didn’t have line producers or a costume department,” Gibbs said. “We filmed in only a few locations, and we set it in the modern-day so that we didn’t have to worry about period pieces for costumes. Everyone also did their own makeup and pretty much did their own costumes.”
They then invited Wichita Falls-based videographer Jason Vandergriff to shoot the movie, and they also received help from Theatre Denton costumer Elsie Barrow and special effects artist Trinity Earhart to bring the movie to life. Meanwhile, much of the movie’s cast consisted of actors from North Texas and were people that Gibbs, Stevens and Murphy knew and have worked with in the past.
“Trey had written the script, and as I was reading it, I was already having people in mind,” Gibbs said. “I reached out to people that have supported all of us in the past or that I’ve worked with and trusted, and I offered them the roles.”
After attaining pre-production essentials, the team was ready to launch into principal photography.
Filming took place in Denton, Bellevue and Gibbs’ hometown of Olney. They shot exclusively on weekends during nighttime to accommodate each person’s schedules as many had day jobs to attend to during the weekdays. Filming wrapped up in about three months, and the movie was completed shortly afterward.
“We got it edited and color corrected and everything you do in post-production, sent it to [ITN Distribution], and they loved it,” Gibbs said. “Then, they pitched it to Walmart, and Walmart picked it up to put in all their stores. They even dubbed it in Spanish.”
“Amityville Cult” is set to hit Walmart shelves across the country Nov. 16 and will also have a red carpet showing at Denton’s own Harvest House Oct. 27th.
Gibbs said that he learned a lot from both starring in and producing his own movie, his biggest takeaway being that their next project will definitely need a bigger budget.
“We needed a bigger budget so that we could hire people to do a lot of the jobs that we were all doing ourselves,” Gibbs said. “Anytime we weren’t on camera, we were doing something to help production run. It was difficult, but I don’t think I would have done anything differently.”
Luckily, Bar G Moving Pictures’ next upcoming film “The Red River Expressway Killer” has received considerable funding through its Indiegogo fundraising campaign, which went viral the day it was posted.
“We decided to try our hand at [fundraising] because Indiegogo has helped so many people get off the ground,” Gibbs said. “We came up with perks that people could purchase, and we had over 100 donations within the first day. We’ve ended up raising almost $21,000 [when] our goal was $10,000.”
Gibbs said he is excited that the city’s residents get a chance to experience the movie, and he hopes to continue producing many more films in Denton as he aims on recruiting more local talent.
“There are so many people involved in the arts in Denton, and there’s not, to my knowledge, a movie production company here,” Gibbs said. “We’re really wanting to provide creative opportunities for Denton.”
Gakenia Njenga can be reached via email at email@example.com.