Michael D. McDonald is determined to keep making low-budget movies in Columbia, and he’s lot letting minor inconveniences like his lack of financing or technical training stand in his way.
McDonald’s latest film, Evil’s Alter, was shot at the historic—and supposedly haunted—Guitar Mansion and will be shown Sept. 11 at The Blue Note, where McDonald is sharing the billing with two bands and a disc jockey.
The story centers on ghost hunters who are faced not only with a poltergeist who refuses to leave his haunt, but also with killers possessed by demons. Not for the feint of heart, there will be lots of blood and gore, just in time to match the spookiness created by Halloween decorations cropping up in storefronts across town.
McDonald, who founded Kindred Moon Productions two years ago, has made six horror films, three of which are feature length. One of his short films, In the Bag, took second place at the Columbia Access Television One Night Stand film competition.
McDonald’s love of acting and producing plays and skits with his family as a child has expanded into what is now a growing local business. Self-taught, he has relied on his instincts—and also on the advice of friends who attended film school.
“I’m kind of proud, in a sense, that I never went to school,” said McDonald. “If you want something badly enough, you can do it.”
McDonald said he chose the horror genre because it is the easiest to pull off and to gain recognition for.
“I’ve always enjoyed horror movies. The suspense element is my favorite part of the filmmaking process,” he said. And as for the blood and gore McDonald includes in his movies? Laughing, he admitted, “I make scary movies, but the gore kind of grosses me out.”
McDonald’s films are independently reliant on McDonald and his wife. Evil’s Alter, which had the largest crew and most special effects, cost around $5,000 to produce, and it came directly from their pockets.
“Financially, yes, we are struggling. We are seeking donations for our next film, and hopefully people will be more apt to help out,” said McDonald.
Although everyone in Kindred Moon’s crew holds down another job, for McDonald, the 11-hour days he regularly puts in are spent on his films alone. Despite the financial hardships, it is always worth it, he said.
“It’s making a lifelong dream a reality,” he said.
Kindred Moon Productions’ films are all shot locally, and McDonald says he will continue to keep his filmmaking in the mid-Missouri area.
At the Guitar Mansion, McDonald and his crew experienced a few scares of their own.
“I noticed some weird things, and so did the crew,” he said. “Things with the lights flickering and stuff like that.”
Using only local musical talent, he considers himself lucky to have access to prime filming locations and to be able to boost Columbia’s arts industry.
“I’m always trying to support the local community. Missouri is just a beautiful place as far as location, and I make a conscious effort to include the smaller surrounding areas,” he said.
Kindred Moon Productions’ films are available for rental at 9th Street Video and Blockbuster, are shown on Columbia’s local access channel and are for sale on the company’s Web site, kindredmoonproductions.com.