Cody Frank & Tom Stajmiger, executive producers of Captive, took some time out of their hectic schedule to talk to us about the forthcoming movie plus their production company, Pollen Path Entertainment*.
*Captive will be Pollen Path Entertainment’s first feature-length movie.
HMZ: Have you always wanted a career in the film industry, if so, can you tell us why?
CF & TS: No. We both started out in the business world, while also dabbling in theater trying to find our passion and where we truly “belong.”. Only in the past couple of years did we make our way to film.
We all have hopes and dreams. When our aspirations align with our actions, we are on what Navajo Indian mythology calls the “pollen path.” We took that concept for the name of our company, Pollen Path Entertainment. We so love making films that is now our sole focus and dream.
HMZ: Back in 2019, you both formed Pollen Path Entertainment. Before the announcement of Captive, was the remit of the company only to produce all-genre short movies or to eventually branch into all-genre feature-length movies?
CF & TS: We’ve made two short films together, starred together in another, and Cody also wrote, directed and starred in yet another one. All of that was simply to learn the craft and create a portfolio to show to investors when we felt ready to move onto feature films. Now having laid that groundwork, Captive will be our first feature film.
HMZ: Having produced three short films, did you always want to produce a feature-length movie?
CF & TS: Our intent was not initially to produce our own content at all. Tom always imagined starting with acting and making his way to directing, as he had done in the theater. Cody had his eye on an acting career. After much discussion, and several drinks, we decided the most expedient path was if we formed our own production company, producing our own work while learning from other more experienced industry professionals at the same time.
We diligently researched the film industry and where films were most likely to be financially successful. This is after all the “business of art.” Making films is a tremendously expensive endeavor, and not something we have the means to finance completely ourselves. We feel it our duty and responsibility to care for our investor’s money and provide the strongest return possible in an ever-changing marketplace.
Accordingly, we created a business plan that begins with the development and creation of five feature films, in ever-growing scope and cost. Captive will be the only one produced at an ultra-low-budget agreement with SAG-AFTRA, as a safe initial first step, before leaping into more murky and risky waters.
HMZ: Depending on the success of Captive, would you consider changing the remit of the production company and focus on producing more horror-genre movies?
CF & TS: Of our initial five films currently in development, the first two are horror, the third is a horror/thriller, the fourth a current headlines heart-tugger, and the fifth a fantasy action piece. Clearly, we like a wide variety of films and hope to be represented in most of the genres over time. Horror however is a favorite and where we are choosing to begin.
HMZ: Can you tell us how the Captive project/concept first came about?
CF & TS: The script was initially written by request by homeowners in the California area who wanted their home to be featured in a film, so they hired a writer to draft a script. That script was Captive. Funnily enough, the owners of the house never specified that they wanted their house used as a movie set, but absolutely no horror. Travis Seppala (the screenwriter) was disappointed in the short term, but thankfully Captive has found a happy home with Pollen Path Entertainment.
We chose to option Captive in sort of a backwards way. We had access to a family property in New Mexico that lends itself to being used in a horror film. We put a request for scripts out on a screenwriter’s website asking for submissions that matched the characteristics of that home. We received a tremendous amount of them, one of which completely by chance was by a writer who wrote the last short film we produced, Bunker, Travis Seppala! We so enjoyed working with him on that film, loved the horror script we received as well, AND it turned out to be the one from the story just mentioned above that was written but never made for another project. It seemed like the perfect merging of circumstances and we selected it for as our first feature film.
HMZ: For those who haven’t read the feature on Captive we put together (which can you read here), can you tell us the story of Captive?
CF & TS: Captive begins with a group of stoners getting high in a park, trying to figure out what to do for the upcoming weekend. Luke, the leader of the group, has an idea – break into a nice neighborhood house while the owners are away and have a party.
After doing just that, weed and booze flow freely until the group starts hearing noises coming from the basement. Rattled, but egging each other on, the group ventures down the stairs. There they find a young man chained up, grateful to have been discovered and pleading to be let loose. High, unsettled, but nervous about going to the cops, they free the captive and remain in the house.
The party continues, slowly regaining momentum, but all is not right. When one of the group is found brutally slaughtered, it becomes clear there is evil lurking among them.
HMZ: The cast of Captive contains some the best underrated American talent around in our opinion, how do you go around casting them as the budgets you have aren’t particularly huge?
CF & TS: Because of our background in theater we are blessed to know a tremendous amount of very talented actors. Captive has 9 leading roles. We were able to cast 4 of them right from the start with people who knew and respected their work. The director also selected two people he very much wanted to work with and were perfect for roles in the film. We then turned to our casting director, Cambria Hankin in Los Angeles, who specializes in casting horror films for the remaining roles. She connected us to our leading lady, Scout Taylor-Compton.
Scout is most famous for starring in the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween, as well as Halloween II, The Runaways, and Flight 7500. Out of any other known-to-us options, we then posted an open call for the two remaining roles. Shockingly (to us) almost 3700 people submitted requests for consideration for those two roles. We just finished callbacks for those roles yesterday and have offered out to two actors. We look forward to announcing their names as soon as the offer deals are completed.
HMZ: Can you tell us about the crew working on Captive?
CF & TS: Our director, Alejandro Montoya Marin, is very well connected in the Albuquerque, NM film industry. He has been mentored by world-renowned director Robert Rodriquez, and has two feature films to his credit, along with multiple shorts, music videos, and commercials. He brought with him many people he has enjoyed working with from those other projects. Our Line Producer, Steve Graham, then helped secure the rest of the crew, all of whom are local to the Albuquerque area (which has become a hotbed of filming in the US and where Captive will be shot).
HMZ: Can you tell us about the Captive filming locations, and why they were selected?
CF & TS: We started with New Mexico for several reasons mentioned above – Cody’s family property, and the strong film industry presence in that state. There are also strong tax incentives (rebates) for using New Mexico resources, so financially it is also a wonderful place to film.
We eventually decided not to use the family property for the film as it is too remote. It became a much less expensive proposition to film in the larger city of Albuquerque, where most of the crew already resides. The film itself takes place mainly in two locations – a public park and a private home. The park was easy to find, but we have enlisted the help of a location scout to help us find the perfect home to use for filming.
HMZ: Because of type of movie Captive is, it would be fair to suggest that special effects will be used. Can you tell us what route you will be going down for Captive in terms of special effects and why?
CF & TS: We will be using mostly practical effects rather than CGI. This is done in part because we like that option best for its realness and grit, and also because that fits better into our budget. We will be working with a make-up artist who specializes in trauma make-up effects to really bring forward some gruesome kills.
HMZ: In one sentence, how would you describe Captive?
CF & TS: A vampire horror film starring Scream Queen Scout Taylor-Compton filled with humor, romance, and BLOOD!
Again, you can read our feature on Captive here.