Patrick Hassan talked to people who knew what it was like to live as a homeless loner in a self-storage facility. There are a few of those kinds of places in Studio City, Calif., and he created a what-if scenario that resulted in the frightening film Blood Shed.
Patrick wrote and then co-directed with Juan Carlos Saizarbitoria the story of bizarre squatters who are locked in for the night with a deranged woman who hunts them down in search of her lost child.
Blood Shed is available now on Netflix and on other sites for download.
Among the local actors Patrick tapped for the movie are outrageous Crow actress Bai Ling, as well as young award-winning actor Brandon Ratcliff.
At just 2 1/2-years-old Brandon was memorizing and reciting verbatim scenes from his favorite shows at that time, quoting Elmo and Barney, and declared his dream was to be in “TV, movies and pictures.”
At 5, Ratcliff was cast by director Miranda July in her movie Me and You and Everyone We Know to play 7-year-old Robbie Swersey. July said she was originally looking for a small 9-year-old to play the character, but said Ratcliff was better and smarter than any of the 9-year-olds who auditioned.
But, now this is the first of some major roles that Brandon is in, and it’s the scariest. And, he’s not necessarily a fan of the genre.
Blood Shed is about Gabriel, a homeless loner who takes up residence in a storage unit that holds secrets about his biological parents, and soon learns the entire storage building is under the control of a menacing she-beast. Brandon plays Trace, a homeless teenage boy who lives in the storage building with his mother who befriends Gabriel.
“I never really watch horror movies,” said Brandon. “Not because I don’t like them, but they really scare my mom, and seeing her reaction to them made me stay away from them.”
In the movie, Brandon’s character Trace is the first person to really connect with Gabriel. When they find themselves at the mercy of Blood Shed’s villainess, Trace helps Gabriel by filling him in on what little he knows about her and Gabriel tries to protect Trace from danger. The movie’s setting is also a commentary on homelessness, exposing a little known fact that more and more people are resorting to living in self-storage units.
Brandon, also a singer and dancer, says he likes to go shopping on Ventura Boulevard with his mom, Tonni, who works for the company Brazilian Blowout and also teaches yoga at Lotus Kitty on Ventura Place.
Patrick shot most of the movie locally, saying, “What Jaws did for people going into the water, Blood Shed will do for anyone having to visit that long-lost unit.”
The script was chosen as a quarterfinalist in the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting and draws on elements of mythology and Mexican Santeria. The story is based in part on Patrick’s own experience of living in his self-storage unit years ago when he found himself without a place to stay.
Patrick is one of a growing number of independent filmmakers using crowdfunding to finance his film. His first feature film, Waiting, a comedy starring Keri Kenney from Reno 911, was reviewed favorably by the The New York Times and won two audience awards. He has since directed two short films, Stealing Magnolias and Dead Broke, which won Best Short Film in the Los Angeles Silver Lake Film Festival. Another one of his scripts, Most Likely To Conceive was recently selected as a finalist in the screenwriting competition at the upcoming Los Angeles Comedy Film Festival.
As inspiration for the film, Patrick slept in a storage unit and was more than a little freaked out and like Gabriel, soon learned he was not alone. He kept hearing what he thought sounded like a typewriter, but figured it had to be something else. On the fourth night of incessant tapping, he went looking for the source of the noise and came upon a scene even more surreal than the transvestite prostitute’s makeshift apartment from years earlier. He followed the noise down one floor to find an old man sitting in front of a typewriter perched on a small table, typing away in front of an open storage unit. Hasson describes the moment as “haunting and strange,” and said the scene set in motion the idea for the film. The man’s storage unit was packed with what appeared to be the contents of his entire life, and Hasson was fascinated imagining what had led the man to this point and what he could possibly be typing.
In that moment, he realized every self-storage unit is a story in itself, filled with forgotten and discarded pieces of people’s lives.
“It’s a creepy environment,” Patrick said. “People are living there among all these forgotten things, and they have to sneak around and improvise the basics of life storage units aren’t equipped for, like bathrooms. And there are a ton of strange noises from stuff inside the storage units settling.”
Check out Blood Shed, and please look through the gallery above of stills from the movie.