Filmmaker Ryan Jones recognizes that a horror story can be set anywhere.
"But when I think of it, most of the horror movies come up around small towns - places like Lawrence," Jones says.
This coming week, Jones and director Patrick Rea will be the small-town ambassadors in a big-time city when they showcase two of their works at the New York City Horror Film Festival. The pair will be the lone representatives from the central states at a five-day festival that features competitors from places as far-flung as British Columbia, Ireland and Germany.
The Kansas University graduates will present the short films "Woman's Intuition" and "The Thing About Bannon's Lookout," both of which were shot in Lawrence.
Rea says the six-minute "Woman's Intuition" is "about a woman who hears a sound whenever danger is approaching. She talks to a doctor about how she's been hearing this sound since she was a child, and now she hears it all the time and thinks she might have some type of terminal disease. Then there's a surprise ending."
He describes the 10-minute "Bannon's Lookout" as a more traditional "'Tales from the Crypt'-ish" horror film.
"It's two policemen talking on a road at night," he says. "The one policeman is explaining to the other the 'legend of the creature in the woods' thing. You think he's just messing with the guy's head, then they creep up on a car and there's a surprise that awaits them."
Also surprising to Rea was the fact that both of his movies made it into the festival.
"I was actually shocked," he says. "It's a great festival, but they tend to lean more toward the horror/gore thing."
Jones and Rea went to last year's NYC Horror Fest with their short "Hell to Pay." They agreed it was very helpful in making contacts (a la visiting the offices of Fangoria magazine) and culling advice about what to do with their first feature, "The Empty Acre."
Rea says, "What makes it so fun is that there's no pretentiousness to it. It's very much about horror movies. Like last year we were at the bar having a beer with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm (of the 'Phantasm' series) talking about what cameras we shot with. As opposed to some of the more 'industry' festivals which are like, 'What film are YOU with?'"
Jones and Rea met in 2000 and have collaborated on more than 30 shorts. Together with third partner Josh Robison, they form the core of SenoReality Pictures. All three share producing credits on their films. Rea always directs; Jones usually handles cinematography, audio and music chores; Robison edits the projects. (All are employees of Free State Studios, which is owned by The World Company.)
They are currently involved in several productions that will be shown on the Horror Channel's new series, "Heartland Horror." And their work will soon pop up on FangoriaTV.
"Simply put, Patrick Rea is a very talented filmmaker," says Michael Hein, director of the NYC Horror Fest (www.nychorrorfest.com).
"He's on a very short list of filmmakers that have had films selected to screen two years in a row. The festival selection committee, which is comprised of industry professionals, vote on each film and (their votes) are averaged. Patrick's work always seems to do well."
For those who plan on traveling to New York, "Woman's Intuition" screens at 7 p.m. Oct. 20, and "The Thing About Bannon's Lookout" plays at 6 p.m. Oct. 21. Both movies will be shown at the Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick St.
"It is easier to be in New York or L.A. to get connections," Jones says. "There is more opportunity. But work productivity is probably triple that in the Midwest. You can get more done in Kansas than you could if you were in New York or L.A. There you have to get shooting permits, it costs more money, rent and transportation are expensive. Here it seems like everybody is more likely to help. 'Yeah, you can use my 30 acres of land.'"