Imagine this: a horror movie, shot in 45 days, here in Metro Detroit, by the hands of local talented filmmakers…all on a budget of $700. Sounds pretty crazy, right? The film titled “Stranger” was put together by a small group of ambitious, local filmmakers with a love for filmmaking. They combined their passion with a very small budget and transformed it into a film that showcases the talent that Metro Detroit possesses.

The horror, zombie-apocalypse film is scheduled to premiere at the Royal Oak Main Art Theatre on October 30th, with show times at 7:00pm, 7:55pm, and 8:50pm. Writer and director Diego Cruz says “Some places in Detroit look like they were made for this film; the history, other art forms that can entice your imagination; so much talent has come from this city, and a lot of talented people remain in the city, with the right mindset you can use it for inspiration. The city is full of great untold stories.”

…And what better way to get into the Halloween spirit than with a horror movie, made here in our backyard?! Watch the movie trailer here!

CW50 had the chance to sit down with a few members from the small crew to hear all about the film and why YOU should go see it.

Check them out:
Riyad Abed (Executive Producer) – Riyad
Diego Cruz (Writer & Director) – Diego
Manny Arroyo (Cinematographer) – Manny
Lamar Daniels (Lead Actor) – Lamar
Corey McIntosh (Supporting Actor) – Corey

Tell us about yourself:

Riyad –  Diego approached me in July and told me he was making a movie and asked if I could give him a hand.  I met with him and Lamar and he pitched me his idea.  Zombie films aren’t really my movie of choice to watch, but Diego and Lamar showed so much passion and the film had such an intriguing plotline, that I couldn’t say no.
Diego – I grew up in Southwest Detroit.  I’ve always been a movie buff. I was intrigued by how everything was brought to life during films. My curiosity just grew stronger as I grew older. I would love for this to be a career, but I’m not there yet.
Manny – I got into filmmaking when I was 7 years old. I picked up a VHS video camera and filmed my brother in the house acting like a thief. I remember telling him to act like he was fighting someone because I would edit it later on. Yeah, I really was 7! Since then, I love it!
Lamar – I first discovered that I may possibly be capable of acting in 7th grade through my English teacher when she cast me in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Carol.
Corey – I have never thought about acting at all, I mean it’s the farthest thing from who I am. I am very shy when it comes to large groups of people. I hate public speaking and things of that nature. Honestly, Diego got me into acting, he approached me and said he was making a film and wanted to know if I would help.

What would you say the goal of the film was?

Riyad – My main goal with the film is to help Diego see his vision come to fruition.  He knows what he wants, which makes it easy for everyone to help him.  Also, I wanted to help showcase all of the talent Detroit can offer.  Southwest Detroit is a tough neighborhood, and there are a lot of diamonds in the rough there.  I know so many talented people that I hoped we could really showcase that talented and make my neighborhood proud.
Diego – The ultimate Goal is to showcase local talent. I’m working with a talented crew that thought we could shine together better than we could have individually.  Aside from the story, I love the sub-genre of zombie films, I wanted to tell a story with in that world that just focused on one person as opposed to a group of people. I want the audience to watch this character, and agree or disagree with his choices and possibly relate to him.
Manny – I really wanted to help tell a story that set place in a visually amazing area as Detroit. The grittiness of the city frankly was just the perfect place for this film.

What is something that you think the audience will love about the film?

Diego – The make-up, our main characters, Luke’s (played by Lamar Daniels) performance…Hands down, my favorite part would have to be the climax of the film.
Manny – I think the audience would love the story of the main character. Well, that’s after they hate him first. I think they will connect with his choices and how he copes with them. My personal favorite moment has to be the blood cannon. Being able to spray tons of fake blood on people was simply awesome. Not to mention having all the fun we did.

What was it like working on a $700 budget?

Riyad – As you can imagine, working with a $700 budget can be difficult.  $1 million is considered a small budget in the movie industry, so $700 is pretty much paper-thin.  Luckily, we have access to people with amazing talents that were willing to donate their services for the film. Not the least of which were the make-up artists, Neyva Villareal-Cruz, Dulce Garza, and Lisette Munoz.  They really helped to bring this film to life.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the make-up rivals some Hollywood productions.  Also, we had some of the most amazing zombie volunteers, with the best attitudes I’ve ever seen.
Diego – Well, some of the crew members had some supplies and equipment that we needed, that made it easier. Some of the crew knew people that were willing to help us with locations and other equipment that added the look and feel to the film.

Why should audiences go see the film?

Riyad – People are going to love the acting performances of Lamar Daniels and Corey McIntosh.  They brought a passion and emotion to their roles, which really shine through on the screen.  I think people will be surprised about how cinematic the film looks and will think it cost tens of thousands to make. I think young filmmakers can watch this film and it proves to them you don’t need a ton of money to follow your dreams.  They’ll see that if you have passion, and people that share that passion, you can accomplish anything.
Diego – It has a bit of everything; there are some horror elements, action, and drama, even a bit of comedy. There is something for everyone to enjoy.
Manny – I think it’s important we should support people trying to follow their dreams. This film could have been done anywhere but was chosen to be done in Detroit. Even if you end up hating the film the fact that so many people of different backgrounds came together to make this movie happen should be enough reason to come out and support it.
Lamar – I feel that we all walk into a movie theater on a weekend we spend $20 and that, for the better part of two hours of our lives that we can’t get back, we are either fortunate to be entertained by a Hollywood film or not so fortunate. With this film which we did purely for everyone else’s entertainment on an extremely miniature budget for just a fraction of the price, and a fraction your time, you can come out see this movie, and find something to really enjoy about it knowing it’s brewed from the heart of the city.
Corey – First is that we are Detroit-made and that we accomplished this with a little under $700. We all are volunteering basically because we wanted to make something good and I think we did that. The plot and story line is strong and it will tug at the emotions of the audience.

How has Detroit played an influence in this film?

Diego – It plays a huge factor. Detroit has some beautiful historic buildings and locations that often get overlooked. That set up some nice scenery for this type of genre.
Manny – I think people just want to tell the stories of the concrete jungle. People want to explore and expose the inner soul that is Motown and the Motor City. The drives people in ways other cities simply just can’t.

Closing thoughts?

Riyad – In closing, I’d just say it’s been honor to be a part of this project and hopefully we can continue to make some great films.  Also, Southwest Detroit is taking over, so watch out world!
Manny – All I can say is this movie was made with passion mixed with blood, sweat, and tears. This story should be enjoyed and viewed by anyone who ever had a dream to make their vision come true.

For more information on the film, check out the Facebook page here!


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