Nov 8, 2013
09:23 AMArts & Entertainment
Vampire Alert: 'Van Helsing of Ipswich' Coming to Litchfield
If all the world is a stage, then actor, director and screenwriter Michael Medeiros of Litchfield is always looking for stories that he can put on that stage. He listens carefully when engaged in conversation, gathering impressions and vignettes that it is easy to imagine he might later mine for a new production.
“I like to listen to people’s stories,” he said succinctly as he lingered over coffee in a Litchfield coffee shop.
He will share a story of his own creation this Sunday when Dickens Books & Art in Bantam commemorates the 166th birthday of “Dracula” author Bram Stoker with an ensemble reading of Mr. Medeiros’ modern-day vampire film screenplay, “Van Helsing of Ipswich.” The reading will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. at the shop, located at 931 Bantam Road.
Even in late October and early November, when the glorious light of summer and fall is being suppressed by the ominous shadows of gathering winter, it is easy to dismiss the idea of yet another horror film in the making, but Mr. Medeiros views “Van Helsing of Ipswich” in a more nuanced way. For him, it is more a matter of psychological evolution than the shock value of blood and gore.
“These myths fit into a sense of reality, and we have to understand what they mean for their time and place,” he said, noting that every society around the world has some variation of the vampire myth. “There is a rich vein of thematic material out there. On an unconscious level, it means something, and it is up to us to decide what. I think vampires represent power and elements that would use power for the wrong reasons.”
OK. … But how does he handle material that could so easily devolve into schlock? In the screenplay, protagonist Gabe Van Helsing tries to lead his struggling rock band out of the basement and into the spotlight, yet his lack of confidence gets in the way. But when the king of vampires arrives in his New England village, Gabe must step up to an even bigger task. Can young Van Helsing learn the secrets of the vampire, finish the work begun by his great-grandfather, and get his band a gig?
Mr. Medeiros said he decided on his protagonists one day while watching his son rehearse with a rock band.
“I was searching for a way into the story and was watching my son rehearse and I knew that my protagonists would be a rock band,” he recounted. “In the script the kid protests to his grandfather that he can’t fight this [dark power], but that is the traditional job of the young—to clean up the mess made by the older generation. And I thought musicians would be good because art is powerful and the impulse toward art is powerful.”
“Van Helsing of Ipswich” is a future project—indeed, a reason for the reading is to raise awareness of the potential of the screenplay—but Mr. Medeiros is also promoting a recent film, “Tiger Lily Road”, his first feature film as writer and director.
“Tiger Lily Road” is co-produced by Litchfield native Ilvi Dulack and was shot in Litchfield and Torrington. To date, the film has won The Audience Award for Best Feature Comedy at the 2013 Woods Hole Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the 2013 Cincinnati Film Festival.