Louisville native Remington Smith has just released his latest film, the dialogue-free horror short “The Woods,” and he’s eager to show the world his work. Last year, it won Best Horror Short at the Louisville International Film Festival. The U of L grad describes it as a mashup of neorealist and horror cinema aesthetics, and it was inspired by horror veteran John Carpenter with a little George Romero thrown in for good measure.
Smith wrote, directed and produced the nine-minute film while he was finishing his master’s degree at the University of Iowa, and he brought on fellow classmate Joshua Yates to be the cinematographer. It was shot using only natural light in extremely cold (-30 degrees) weather in Iowa City, Iowa.
“Our first day of shooting we froze the camera,” Smith says in his director’s statement. “Thank god it started back up again, because I thought we were screwed for sure.”
Even though the cast and crew had to take many warm-up breaks and nearly got stuck in remote locations after a snowfall, Smith believes it was important to shoot in the elements to get the right amount of emotion delivered on screen.
“I was raised on ’80s horror films, so I love doing things for real in my movies,” he says. “It’s just too big of an opportunity to pass up to utilize this season that transforms Iowa. I think the results speak for themselves. I’ll take this over green screen or studio work any day.”
Smith has made a handful of shorts and documentaries, including “Hank vs. Ninjas, Nazis and Chupacabra” and “Rubbertown.” The latter is a full-length documentary that follows Louisville resident Monika Burkhead as she tries to move her house to another county to escape the toxic air and chemicals in the Rubbertown neighborhood. He is currently submitting this film to national festivals.
At the moment, Smith lives in Atlanta doing freelance film production work, but he plans to come back to Louisville when he gets a gig.
You can watch “The Woods” online here.
Smith took a few minutes between takes to answer seven very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
Probably how boring it is, because I’d love to just own a house and settle in. I already took a trip through Europe by myself when I was 21, and I moved around a lot as a kid, so making a permanent home is a big deal to me.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
I think there was a “Godzilla” poster (shamefully, the Roland Emmerich one) and posters of the band Everclear. Their first two albums had a ragged edge to them, but could be more upbeat than Nirvana, so Everclear was the first band I really loved.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
This may sound corny, but the teachers at Central High School would get that key. I really wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for them quasi-raising me, which I think a lot of poor public school kids could relate to.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
My pizza would be veggie heavy with some pepperoni. Some days with pineapple, or more Mediterranean style.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
If I had to pick any age, it would probably be something like 80 years old. I would want to know what’s coming down the line to appropriately prepare but also get some direct insights as to what my grandparents are experiencing. It would probably lead to a lot more phone calls with them.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
For a little while in high school, people said I looked like Ben Affleck. That was before I grew the beard out, so I don’t know who I look like now. Or maybe Ben Affleck should just grow out a beard.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
I’ve been spending some time in Atlanta recently, Martin Luther King Jr.’s hometown, and the Black Lives Matter movement is also on my mind a lot, so I wonder what it would have been like to meet Dr. King. I read his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in college and was blown away by how clear it was that he loved the people he is writing to, and even the whites attacking him and his movement. You don’t see that love enough, so to be trapped in an elevator with someone who lived that type of radical love, it would have to change you.