Tuesday, November 3, 2020

|Podcast| The Deeper You Dig - John Adams, Toby Poser & Zelda Adams

Photo Content from The Adams

John Adams, Toby Poser, and their daughters, Lulu and Zelda, are a film making family under the creative marquee of Wonder Wheel Productions. They have 5 features under their belts: Rumblestrips (2012), Knuckle Jack (2013), The Shoot (2014), Halfway to Zen (2016)— all earning a hearty reception on the indie festival circuit, including Best in Show and Audience awards— and their latest The Deeper You Dig (2019). For each they've employed the same DIY ethic: between the four of them (well, now three, as Lulu is off to college), they write, direct, produce; they shoot, edit, act, and compose. The family lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

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The Deeper You Dig is a story about grief and survival, cloaked in shades of horror and bent through a mirage of the supernatural. We wanted to make a film that fell into the realm of horror, but that was also a drama about true, impenetrable love - and the lengths to which a mother and daughter might go to stay whole. 

We devised the 7 Circles to mirror the classic 7 Stages of Grief (Denial, Pain, Anger, Sadness , Upward turn , Reconstruction, and Acceptance), but these circles also invited us to put on our creative hats and go out on fun artistic limbs of style and abstraction. The circles act as karmic templates or visionary seeds that push Ivy and Echo along on their respective journeys to illuminate the truth. Echo is young and unready to slip into the finality of death; she wants her mother to have peace. Ivy must rip off her blindfold of cynicism and stare, eyes wide, into the face of the great Unknown if she’s to find that peace and accept its terms. Unburying the dead (and the secrets that feed on that darkness) has consequences, but how strong is love? Is it stronger than hate? Than vengeance? Can love take the form of your own daughter’s killer?

Kurt’s drunken collision with Echo is a double-edged tragedy. They both make bad decisions: hers to go sledding at night; his to think he can kill (and cover) the truth. Both fight for survival: Kurt struggles to save his identity; Echo strives to steal it. Of course the deeper Kurt tries to bury his guilt, the higher Echo rises to consume it for her own purposes. 

The Deeper You Dig was shot almost entirely in the Catskill Mountains of New York, where we live. It was also shot in tandem with John’s actual work restoring an old farmhouse. We like to think of that house as a character in the film, evolving as the story does.... a parallel symbol of Echo’s (and Kurt’s) own transformation. Creepy, cold, and dark in its skeletal early form, the house changes over the seasons, finding its own pulse. New walls cover old wooden bones like skin; windows welcome light; foundations are sealed. Ivy, too, is rebuilding the bedrock of her former mystical prowess while cementing a new, if unconventional, deal for the future.

Ivy and Echo are not your typical motherdaughter team. Ivy, once an intuitive psychic, makes an easy buck as a bogus tarot card reader; 14 year- old Echo likes old-timey music, hunting, and black lipstick. When reclusive Kurt moves down the road to restore an abandoned farmhouse, an accident leads to Echo’s murder, and suddenly three lives collide in mysterious and wicked ways. Kurt assumes he can hide his secret under the ground. But Echo burrows into his head until he can feel her in his bones. As she haunts his every move, trying to reach her mother from beyond, Ivy must dig deep to see the signs and prove that love won’t stay buried.

“Dig” is our fifth feature under the marquee of Wonder Wheel Productions. John and I have been making films with our daughters, Lulu and Zelda, since they were 11 and 6. Since Lu left for college we’ve downsized to a power trio. We act in the film, but we also write and direct. John edits and scores. I produce. We all shoot and run sound. Zelda also threw her co-directorial weight around - she offers a cool, keen, and new perspective we always appreciate.

Photo Content from The Adams

One scene was shot in NYC, but the rest of the film was shot in the Catskill Mountains - much of it in our own backyard. John has been restoring an old farmhouse, and the carpentry work he’s doing in the film is real-time work as well. If he had to demolish a wall, he’d shoot it and we’d put it in the film. (Good thing we got the tub-out-the-window shot, because that wasn’t going to happen again.)

Wonder Wheel Productions, the artistic collaboration between Toby Poser, John Adams, and daughters Lulu and Zelda Adams. Wonder Wheel epitomizes a can-do attitude toward independent film making: as cast and crew, they write, act, and shoot; they produce, direct, edit and score. They’re a small team up for a wildly creative ride.

In 2010 the family bought a camera and some mikes and hit the American highway. Befriending coastlines, mountains, and deserts, they shot Wonder Wheel's first feature-length film, RUMBLESTRIPS — a fictional tale of how one family navigates loss, love, and an impending prison sentence. Their second feature, KNUCKLE JACK, is a tale of small town life, lovable losers, and larceny, shot in New York's Catskill Mountains. Third feature, THE SHOOT, a dark commentary on fame, fashion, and rock and roll, was shot in downtown Los Angeles and the contrasting desert reaches of Joshua Tree. Fourth feature, Halfway to Zen, a portrait of a banged-up family that reunites despite some crappy odds, revisits upstate New York. All films had successful runs on the independent film circuit, winning awards (including Jury and Audience) coast to coast and overseas. (Please see RUMBLESTRIPS, KNUCKLE JACK, THE SHOOT, and Halfway to Zen for Video on Demand and screening options.)

Wonder Wheel’s fifth feature, The Deeper You Dig, takes a moody, twisted, and new spin in the supernatural horror direction. The film had an illustrious run on the festival circuit and is now being distributed by Dark Sky Films (and Arrow Films in the UK!) across numerous platforms.
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