The group of Midwestern filmmakers who brought us The Stylist, Revealer, and Brooklyn 45 has a new horror on the horizon. Their latest, Black Mold, is premiering at Panic Fest this coming weekend. While exploring a decrepit and abandoned facility, an auspicious photographer faces off against her traumatic past. Here's the official synopsis:
The story centers on photographers Brooke Konrad (Agnes Albright) and Tanner Behlman (Andrew Bailes) as they travel to rural, abandoned buildings to capture the inherent beauty of long-forgotten locations, but far from forgotten are the traumatic memories that surface in Brooke when they meet The Man Upstairs, an unsuspecting squatter (Jeremy Holm). As tensions and uncertainties arise, Brooke must determine if this mysterious stranger will provide her the closure she so desperately seeks or let the fears of the past consume her.
Black Mold writer/director John Pata stopped by to chat with us ahead of this weekend's Panic Fest premiere. "Who the hell goes into abandoned buildings to photograph them? I do. Exploring and documenting forgotten locations is a long-time interest of mine, as I find those types of settings truly beautiful, rich with history and stories." Pata puts his money where his mouth is, the entire concept of the film came about during one of these particular excursions. "The idea of Black Mold came to me while crawling through a decrepit house in 2016, while I was also gradually sinking into a state of concerning mental health. At the time, my depression was infecting my every thought. I found myself getting lost in self-negativity, not knowing what was real and what was not. I wrote a brief outline right away, something I didn't revisit and develop until the end of 2020, four years after I began therapy and climbed out of my personal darkness."
In spite of navigating his own personal darkness, Pata continued to help his colleagues tell their stories, "Over the last nine years, I’ve helped my fellow Midwestern filmmakers achieve their cinematic visions — from producer to editor to post-production supervisor — and am beyond stoked to apply all I've learned from those projects and apply them to directing a story that is equally as emotional as it is unnerving."
Now it's Pata's turn in the director's chair, and he's incorporating some personal experiences, "Black Mold encompasses many of my own photographic experiences, as well as my journey with mental health and the ongoing acceptance of losing my father at a young age. The film explores the dangers that can surface at the intersection of artistic pursuits and internal sabotage."
The film was shot in Central Illinois, the cast and crew spent a month working exclusively in actual abandoned locations. Pata shares, "There weren't always windows in the buildings, not a whole lot to shield us from the strong winds, and there was certainly no heat or power either, so getting out of the cold was a rare occurrence." After enduring less than ideal conditions, Pata is especially gracious when it comes to his cohorts embarking on this journey with him, "A film is nothing without its cast and crew, and this cast and crew arose to every occasion and absolutely killed it. The days were long as they always are, and they were beyond cold too, and yet the cast and crew didn't back down from anything. When I stop and look back, I can't help but realize just how much of a logistical headache this shoot was due to our filming locations, but our production team made it all operate so smoothly and safely."
Of the grueling shoot, Pata adds, "We packed a lot into that month of production and the post-production team excelled in every way possible. I am so proud of the work every person did on this film, and am excited to finally share their work and the film with audiences."
Take a look below as the Black Mold gang takes us behind the scenes in Central Illinois, photos courtesy of Dave Burke. You can catch Black Mold at Panic Fest this weekend, and stay tuned for more coverage as the Mold makes its way to the masses.