Some of the most successful and critically acclaimed horror films like The Exorcist and The Omen have dealt with the timeless idea of demonic possession. Growing up, New York Film Academy MFA Producing Alumnus and current instructor Justin Lareau lived near a home that had the first documented cases of possession in American history. “Seeing this house everyday, I knew that when I had the opportunity to make my first feature, I would want it to be something similar,” said Lareau. “So it inspired my original story idea.”
Justin wrote the original story for his horror film before entering NYFA and then wrote the treatment during one of his classes. He wanted to graduate and be able to make a feature right away. It was at NYFA that Justin met with two other producing students Ayush Banker and Helene Gonze. After incorporating an LLC, Justin brought his classmates aboard to write and produce the script, which would be become Nefas: The Wicked. “All three of us were an integral part of the project, getting great deals to make this a large production,” said Lareau. “We are a team that worked very well together and are in preparation for the sequel as we speak.”
The story of Nefas revolves around a small town skeptical doctor, who is forced to face his inner demons in order to save the life of a possessed teenage girl living in his family’s old house. It’s a unique take on possession which separates itself from the other similar stories yet it takes us back to the classics mentioned before like The Omen and The Exorcist.
As is often said and most certainly holds true on this project, it’s all in the re-write. After their original draft, the team wanted an outside opinion on the script, and decided to hire writer Michelle Beyda Scott. From there, the team of three went back to work, writing the next 21 drafts.
Once the team was confident in the script, they successfully pitched the project to private investors, raising the necessary funds for the film. With investment dollars secured and the help of talent agents, the two lead actors: Charlene Amoia, formerly Wend the Waitress on nine years of How I Met Your Mother and on American Reunion amongst many other projects, and Patricia Ashley who formerly hosted her own Nickelodeon show called Got Ya Covered. Aside from producing the film, Justin and Ayush directed the film as well.
In terms of distribution, the team is in talks with distributors but are waiting for the final phase of sound design to be completed before the project is open for sale. Nefas will be completed by the end of January 2015. Following that, the team will make a festival run.
“In a perfect world, I would like for it to get it’s distribution and then make a festival run for our marketing,” noted Lareau. “I would love for a limited theatrical that would lead to a wider distribution, followed by all of the other platforms. Our sound has been designed for a theatrical release and the quality of the image is that of a major motion picture.”
We wish the best of luck to Justin, Ayush and Helene on Nefas: The Wicked and look forward to seeing it in the theaters!