Mike Lombardo is the writer/director of the post-apocalyptic Christmas tale I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday, making its World Premiere at Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, OH. The festival takes place October 19th through the 22nd.
Tell us a bit about I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday. It’s an interesting title.
White Doomsday is a post-apocalyptic Christmas flick that is best described as Miracle on 34th Street meets The Road. It follows a young mother and her seven-year-old son as they struggle to survive in a bomb shelter after an unnamed apocalypse. It’s my first feature-length film and a pretty big departure for me tonally. I usually do weird horror comedy, but this one is completely serious and much more of a dark drama.
Where did you get the idea for White Doomsday?
It was based on a short story I wrote in 2012 that appeared in the anthology A Very Strangehouse Christmas. I was going through some rough stuff in my personal life; I had lost a few friends to cancer and my mom was in the ICU for six months with Stage 4 Kidney Failure and things were looking grim (thankfully she recovered), so to stay sane I wrote a story about watching someone you love slowly fading away and being powerless to stop it. I also wanted to explore the idea of the world eroding the magic and innocence you have when you’re a kid and are oblivious to the harsh realities you’ll end up dealing with. The story struck a chord with people and I was constantly asked if I was ever going to turn it into a movie so one day I sat down and started breaking down the logistics of filming it and then knocked out a script and started scouting locations.
How long did the movie take to put together, from idea to finished product?
I wrote the script in 2014, and then went right into pre-production building props and distressing the wardrobe and all that, so it’s been about three years from start to finish. Well-known horror author Brian Keene came on board as an executive producer shortly after we started filming, so that was a huge help in getting the movie done. We shot on weekends over the course of two years, and I believe our final total was about 36 days of shooting. I took a few months off from editing to stay sane, but other than that it was pretty much nonstop work on the movie whenever I wasn’t at my day job.
Is White Doomsday your largest project so far?
It is BY FAR the biggest and most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted in my life. We had so many abandoned locations and costumes and props, the logistics were an absolute nightmare. The cast and crew had to tough through the most extreme conditions you could imagine and they kicked ass. There was one day where we were shooting Santa exteriors and the abandoned locale we needed to use was regularly patrolled by cops, so we shot it on the coldest day on record in PA in the last 100 years. The actual temperature was 2 degrees Fahrenheit and with windchill it was -12. It was the only time we knew there wouldn’t be anyone watching the place so we hiked through the woods and shot our scenes and got out before anyone got hypothermia. We duct taped chemical hand warmers under 3 layers of clothes to try to stay warm. There was actually one point where someone knocked over a cup of coffee and it froze 3 dimensionally, I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life. I saw that and said, “Fuck this, we’re done!”
What are your plans for White Doomsday? Do you plan to screen it at any film festivals or conventions?
We’ve submitted to several film festivals and are waiting to hear if we were accepted. If all goes according to plan, The Winter Wasteland Tour should kick off with the premiere of the movie sometime in October, and then play throughout the year at various festivals and conventions. We’re also planning on renting some theaters more locally here in PA and doing screenings with the cast and crew in attendance and coupling it with some short films too.
When did you start Reel Splatter Productions? Are most of your movies visceral horror, as the studio name suggests?
I started Reel Splatter back when I was in high school, so that would have been about 2003. Since then we’ve been churning out bizarre and grotesque short films on a regular basis. I’d say visceral is generally a pretty good descriptor, they tend to go with plenty of the red stuff, haha. I tell people we make splatter comedy, I don’t think I’ve ever tried to actually scare anyone with any of the movies, though depending on your morals, that is debatable.
Anything else you would like to say?
Just that I am extremely proud of my cast and crew on White Doomsday, there wouldn’t be a movie if they didn’t stick it out and stay aboard the insanity that was the production. I’m also beyond words with gratitude for all the people who donated props, money, and time to the project, also to everyone who has been supporting it by posting the trailer and talking about it. What a lot of people don’t realize is that their words of encouragement, however big or small they may be, can make the difference between toughing it out or quitting to an artist, and they are very much appreciated. I am so excited for you folks to finally see it!
I speak for everyone who worked on the movie when I say thank you to everyone who supported us, and to you Sheri, and Hellnotes for doing this interview. I’ll see you all this Christmas in the frozen wastes!
Hi, Mike! I read the hell out of—-and enjoyed—-this interview. I’m planning on attending at least part of the Nightmares Film Festival in order to see I’M DREAMING OF A WHITE DOOMSDAY. Via yourself (on the Brian Keene Forum and his podcast), I’ve been keeping track since you started. Looking forward. Your work ethic shines.
Thanks man! I believe we are screening Friday around 1:30 at Nightmares, but the schedule isn’t set in stone yet. Excited to meet you I the flesh amigo!