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‘It’s been a roller coaster’: New Mexico-made film ‘The Dead of Night’ a yearslong journey for director

Matthew Lawrence in a scene from “The Dead of Night.” (Courtesy of Buffalo 8 Productions)

Robert Dean has been on a journey with his latest film, “The Dead of Night.”

The film, which was shot in New Mexico, was selected to be part of the Cannes Film Festival in 2020.

The film hit another milestone when it was released to the world on March 2.

Production for “The Dead of Night” took place in Capitan, N.M., director Robert Dean’s hometown.

“(It) was entirely shot in the rural community of Capitan, my hometown,” Dean says. “This is truly a homegrown New Mexico film, as not only the below the line, but almost the entire above the line – producers, directors, director of photography – are all New Mexico residents.”

“The Dead of Night” begins soon after violent masked drifters dressed as wolves arrive in a small rural town, a local young couple vanishes and their bodies are discovered near a ranch run by siblings Tommy and June, played by Jake Etheridge and Colby Crain. Her ex-boyfriend and local deputy sheriff, Luke Walker, played by Matthew Lawrence, starts suspecting Tommy of murder, leaving the siblings ostracized and disenchanted with the community.

The next day, Tommy catches the killers committing another murder nearby and moves in closer to investigate, but he is seen by one of the drifters and chased across the ranch, running for his life.

Robert Dean, left, on the set of “The Dead of Night.” (Courtesy of Buffalo 8 Productions)

Isolated, the siblings find themselves being hunted and terrorized by the nomadic killers, setting the scene for a startling twist and a gruesome outcome that will change the town forever.

The film is available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and other platforms.

Production took place in October 2018.

Growing up in Capitan and living on a ranch, Dean had nothing but his imagination and the vast landscape as entertainment.

“One day, my dad was driving me to school down that long dirt road, and in the distance we saw a man walking towards us,” he recalls. “My dad pulled up next to him and offered him a ride into town, but the drifter didn’t speak, and I couldn’t see his face beneath his large-brim hat. I distinctly noticed he was wearing animal furs as a coat. For years, I had nightmares about this drifter. Fast forward to me in film school years later, and I was writing a script about this very character.”

Dean spent a lot of time revising the script, with a goal of making the film on a micro budget.

“I pushed for years trying to get someone to believe in this as much as I did. I made more pitch decks than I can count,” he says. “I went to numerous meetings with investors, got script feedback, scouted locations, got let down over and over, rewrote the script again, and after about nine years of never giving up, I finally got the opportunity to make this film. It’s been a roller coaster.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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