Talk about staying productive during the pandemic! Deon Taylor and Roxanne Avent Taylor just wrapped production on their Hidden Empire Film Group project ‘DON’T FEAR’ in just 17 days! The pair proved that teamwork really is dreamwork, with Deon taking on writing and directing while Roxanne produced and learned COVID protocols to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. Production was completed in 17 days in Kyburz, CA; fully compliant with COVID-19 guidelines.
Directed by Deon Taylor, the film which was one of the first to go into production during the pandemic and completed under COVID compliant restrictions, stars Joseph Sikora, Andrew Bachelor, Terrence J, Anne Ilonzeh, Iddo Goldberg, Ruby Modine, Jessica Allain and T.I. The plot hits eerily close to home — a year into living through a worldwide pandemic, a group of friends gather in the remote Tahoe Mountains to stay at the “Historic Strawberry Lodge”. What was supposed to be a much needed getaway and celebratory weekend, quickly turns into a waking nightmare. After waking up to an emergency service warning, the friends find out the virus has mutated to a more highly lethal and contagious airborne threat, forcing them to shelter-in-place immediately. The group is pushed to the brink of survival as the truth about the historic lodge slowly unravels in front of them. With nowhere to go, they are forced to battle against the lodge’s true purpose, to haunt their fears and collect their souls.
“As one of the first films to go into production with external and internal filming, we are thrilled to have completed production on DON’T FEAR,” said writer/director Deon Taylor. “Roxanne, the entire team and I are incredibly thankful for our amazing cast and crew who all worked incredibly hard and were fully dedicated in getting this film completed under less than ideal circumstances. It is during our darkest moments in life that we as artists find our brightest light.”
Taylor told Variety he was inspired by quarantine and lockdown when he told his wife, producer Roxanne Avent Taylor, he was going to make a film. He made calls to Joseph Sikora and DP Christopher Duskin, who were the first of the cast and crew to get on board with the project – before a script had been written.
“We went through three iterations of ‘What the hell are we doing?.’” Deon Taylor told Variety of the project. “The first thing I did was create this series called, “Black Cheer” and we started interviewing everyone. I spoke to Hillary Swank, Jamie Foxx and Tyrese Gibson about film.”
“Secondly, there was the Black Lives Movement which I was very active in. I led a march with 53,000 people and they had tracked the march and there were no COVID-19 cases from it.”
“I had been sitting there too scared to go out, and if we did, we wore masks. I was also thinking about the anxiety of it all, and that’s really where it began.”
As part of the COVID protocols, cast and crew were COVID tested every three days, were required to wear masks at all times while not on camera, self-drove to/from the set and were accommodated either on set at the lodge that was fully rented out by production or at a nearby hotel where they quarantined with no outside interaction. Additionally, the set had washing stations, gloves and sanitizing stations throughout, all cameras and equipment were sanitized daily all catering and craft services were pre-packaged.
“As a producer working during COVID-19, it is very important that keep our cast and crew safe and healthy,” said producer Roxanne Avent Taylor. “Everyone was very excited to get back to work and we took every precaution necessary to insure their safety. Our team worked in tandem with the Guilds including SAG and DGA, we had a doctor who was trained by Dr. Fauci administer all the test, a paramedic onsite at all times and a Bactakleen Antibacterial Treament System and cleaning crew to sanitize the set daily. It’s been quite the process, but we are very proud and excited for what we as team have completed.”
DON’T FEAR is produced by Roxanne Avent Taylor, Omar Joseph, T.I. and Heather Kritzer and is executive produced by Bennett Koo, Andrew Bachelor, Clifford Reid and Terrence J. The film was co-written by Deon Taylor and John Ferry.
Taylor is also the director of Lionsgate’s upcoming film FATALE starring Michael Ealy and Hilary Swank scheduled for a theatrical release on October 30.
This sounds really dope, we’re looking forward to seeing it soon. It sounds like they shot it in record time, we wonder how soon they’ll get done with post because we definitely can’t wait to see it.