Filmmaker brings terror to Bloomfield

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Tom Ryan is celebrating the spooky season by filming the sequel to his independent anthology film, “The Theatre of Terror.” He has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to shoot. The writer, director, producer and casting director of his films, Ryan was inspired for his new work by old-school monster movies.

“We wanted that Frankenstein effect,” the Bloomfield resident said in a phone interview with The Independent Press on Oct. 16. “We wanted to hearken back to those classic monster movies. We stylize it like ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Tales from the Crypt’ and Stephen King.”

Ryan and his crew found the look that emulates old horror movies at Kip’s Castle in Verona and in Westminster Hall on the campus of Bloomfield College. Both buildings have towers that look similar to those in many old horror movies.

Shooting a film during a pandemic has been hard but not impossible. Ryan has kept the cast and crew small; they’re able to social distance. He’s currently shooting the second of four short films for the anthology. The trailer for the first short story of “Return to the Theatre of Terror,” called “Soothsayer,” was released earlier this year.

“The first segment that we shot we got in before,” Ryan said. “I had the lockdown to work on editing. Now, we’re excited to get back to it.”

It’s taking a little longer than it normally would, even though his last film took two and a half years to finish. Each of the four shorts will be submitted to film festivals as individual pieces, in addition to as one longer film. Ryan’s hoping the project will be finished by mid-2021.

“I’m drawn to horror because it allows you to explore a lot of different genres,” Ryan said. “You can do dramatic horror, comedic horror and thrillers. We’re more in the thriller genre. It’s less bloody and tends to be more cerebral. There’s a broad spectrum.”

The fundraising campaign ended with $13,555 of the $20,000 goal achieved, but supporters can still donate to Ryan’s projects at Ryan’s past work is available on the website as well. 

Most of Ryan’s filming is done locally, making the settings recognizable to people from Bloomfield and the surrounding area.

“I do love to work within the township,” he said. “People are really supportive of local arts. For indie productions like us, that helps so much.”

Photos Courtesy of Tom Ryan