John Fallon on the set of The Shelter

Writer-Director John Fallon Delves into ‘The Shelter’

Writer-Director John Fallon shares how The Shelter was conceived and more! To read our review of The Shelter click here.
US residents can watch the film on Amazon and iTunes.
Canadians can watch it on iTunes and YouTube.

Splats of Blood: Where did you draw your inspiration (other films, books, etc.) for The Shelter?

John Fallon: I was coming back from a hockey game at night and saw a homeless man on the street begging for change. I gave him some money and on my way home 3 questions popped in my head: Who is this man? How did he get there? Where is he going next?  I wrote those down and they became the seed that would sprout The Shelter. I was also inspired to varied degrees by Roman Polanski’s work (specially Repulsion), David Lynch’s experimental storytelling style (although Shelter is more straightforward) and I brushed up on Scripture (standard and obscure) while writing the script.

Splats of Blood: The film is an interesting handling of horror and religious/psychological drama, which are usually categories that work independently of each other. What made you want to explore these things in connection with each other, and how are they working in this film?

John Fallon: It’s just the story that wanted to get told.  My self-destructive 20’s, my love of the horror genre and my initial relationship with my Catholic upbringing definitely had something to do with it.  For better or for worse, The Shelter came from the heart and was the purest form of expression I had ever done in the sense that I never even thought of compromising anything to try to “please” or make it easier/more appealing for anybody. I just wrote what poured out – no filter and being that this was a low budget film, I felt that I could do that, this was the place to do this– take chances. As an aside, every genre film has to do with demons or Satan but anybody that has read the Old Testament knows that the man upstairs can be fairly harsh when it comes to tough love. Hence, I figured it would be interesting to explore the flip side of the coin for a change.

Michael Pare in The Shelter

Splats of Blood: Do you sympathize with Jacobs’s character? Why or why not?

John Fallon: I do. He’s a damaged soul, weighted down by guilt and self-loathing and he doesn’t have the toolbox to fix himself. I feel pity for him. And yes, I was there once myself (again, them damn 20’s).  I knew that the character was fairly unlikeable on paper, so getting a charismatic lead actor was key. We were lucky to get Michael Pare. In my opinion, he made the role more endearing to the audience via his charm and magnetism (the camera loves that dude). Much like the rest of the film, I didn’t want to pander to anybody when it came to Thomas. He is who he is just like the film is what it is. Take it, leave it, all good.

Splats of Blood: What are you most proud of in either the writing or filming of The Shelter? What do you think is/are its strongest moment(s)?

John Fallon: I’m proud of everything. Proud that I never gave up on the script for 3 years, proud that I got it in the can (along with my talented cast and crew) with a small budget and low shooting dates and proud that I didn’t give up in Post which was a very testing process (due to baffling technical “nades” being dropped our way). The Shelter has been with me since 2013, that’s 3 years of my life and for the last 2 years, it’s been with me 24/7. Sure, I look at it and think, I wish I had more coverage during my third act so I could shorten my first act – but hey I did what I could with what I had, learned the hard way and I am going into my next film a better man and filmmaker. The Shelter is the film that I wanted to make and now it’s out there and people will get what they get out of it.  Love it, hate it, in the middle – I am happy either way!