Reid: Well, I figured since I’m gonna be working here in Oakdale, I should make more of an effort to be part of the community.
Kim: [sarcastically] Why?

— Reid and Kim

Not just October, but we have an actual release date confirmed for OCCUPANT, the indie horror/thriller flick starring Van Hansis!

image_thumb[1] Squee!!!! Can I say I’m excited to have news on the OCCUPANT front (an indie horror thriller starring Van Hansis)?!?!?!

Back in December, I had contacted Blair Rosenfeld, Producer of OCCUPANT Films, LLC, as part of a Christmas initiative that may yet see the light of day. At any rate, I had been meaning to get back in touch, and when Van put out his call for Occupant publicity, it gave me the kick in the keister I needed to check in again.

Specifically, I asked about release dates, festivals (especially given how well Stuffer and Silent House have done getting accolades and distribution respectively), and what fans can do to help.

So here is Blair’s reply:

Thanks for getting back in touch. As it stands, Warner Brothers will be distributing OCCUPANT digitally in North America to up to 100 million households starting October 18th. The US DVD will also be available on that date. We will be looking for international distribution as we move forward.

Regarding festivals, the bulk of the best ones for our film (thriller/horror genre festivals) will be taking place this fall/winter. As a result of our October release, it is not clear if it will be worthwhile for to go that route as well but we are keeping an open mind at this point.

Any support you could provide for getting our release date out there would be great. Even for the DVD as the more people put it in their queue (i.e., at Netflix) the better. Voting for the film on IMDB is also very helpful.

We will be pushing more updates on Facebook and our webpage soon.

Thanks very much for your support.

So there you have it. Having heavy hitter Warner Brothers involved has to be a good thing. Just keeping my fingers crossed that there will be some option for overseas fans soon, too.

In the meantime, to follow up on Blair’s suggestions:

  • Vote for Occupant on IMDb and add it to your Watchlist
  • When you can, add the DVD to your queue at Netflix (ltklo at ESS.com astutely already tried and found it wasn’t yet available on Netflix; I checked back with Blair who confirmed this, adding “Hopefully it will be up soon.” Either way, it cannot be done by those of us overseas, so we’re SOL on this front.)
  • Like OCCUPANT on Facebook
  • Check out the OCCUPANT website where you’ll find cast bios, publicity stills, and links to clips
  • Watch the trailers and interviews on the official Vimeo site
  • Follow @occupantfilms onTwitter
  • And, of course, mark October 18th on your calendars! 🙂

Incidentally, WeLoveSoaps’s Roger Newcomb is featuring last November’s interview with Van Hansis as one of “My Favorite Interviews from Season 2 of WE LOVE SOAPS TV”. The interview was filmed shortly after Van moved to Los Angeles and Van talks extensively about OCCUPANT as well as his career, the end of ATWT, and his move to LA.

You can watch the first 15 minutes of the 27-minute interview on YouTube, or below, but to see the complete interview, you’ll need to stop by the WeLoveSoaps site.

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And “hi back!” to snicks from AfterElton includes in yesterday’s briefs, “A special shoutout to Van Hansis, who just announced that his film Occupant will be released on VOD and DVD in October.”

In the meantime, more on Occupant including the story, tidbits about the haunted Ashgrove apartments, trailers, interviews, and more after the jump….

What is OCCUPANT?

In case you missed it (!), OCCUPANT is an indie horror/thriller film which Van says in his WeLoveSoaps interview, was shot in New York City roughly between April 15 to May 15, 2010 (Blair describes it as “20 days” of filming, so I guess they got weekends off at least!).

Van took a leave from ATWT to film, which was great for OCCUPANT and Van, but not so much for Luke and Reid fans who had to put up with the hiatus and its collateral damage (e.g., back-to-back episodes in the storyline with direct contradictions – see June 30th where Bob gives Reid his job back, and then July 14th when Reid says Bob will never give him his job back!).

The OCCUPANT website sums it up as:

25 year old Danny Hill’s grandmother just died giving Danny the chance to move into her enormous rent controlled apartment in Manhattan.

Danny must lock himself in for 12 days before he can take over the lease.

There’s just one problem — he may not be the only OCCUPANT.

Van gives it a little more oomph in his WeLoveSoaps interview and says:

Occupant is the story of Danny Hill, who is a guy who looks just like me (it’s so weird!)….and he’s a young guy whose grandmother dies, and she has this beautiful apartment on the Upper West Side of New York City, and it’s rent controlled, which I think all New Yorkers and probably most big-city dwellers understand the beauty of rent control, because it means that you get to pay – or you don’t get to pay – you only pay what the rent was when it got rent controlled, which could be like 1972 when the rent was much, much lower.

So she dies, and he has to go identify her body ‘cause he’s the only family member in New York. And he’s not close with her, he didn’t really know her. So, he gets to this apartment, and it’s beautiful – three bedrooms, it’s got an art studio, huge kitchen…And he lives in this little…squalor in Queens.

So he gets there, and it’s fantastic. He identifies her body…and life’s gonna be fine…It’s like, “Oh, my grandmother lived in such a beautiful place, and yup, she’s dead!”

…But then as he’s leaving the apartment, he gets an offer to take over her lease under the terms that she had. So basically, he gets this huge, beautiful apartment, paying the same amount that she paid because it was rent-controlled….But, the key is, you have to have been living there before, which he wasn’t. So you’ve got to basically lie to the Board and say, “I was here.”

So in order for him to do this, he has to stay in the apartment because the Rent Control Board might come and change his locks if he leaves. So he has to stay in the apartment. And that’s when things get a little creepy…he’s trapped in the apartment.

…I can’t tell every part of the movie or no one would come see it!

Van describes it as a film very much featuring: “suspense, psychological, fear of the unknown, things going bump in the night, not somebody in a mask with a dagger chasing after a 17-year-old girl.” But, he adds,

Yeah, I had an axe – that was kind of cool. I felt like that was my shining moment. Not my shining moment, but Shining, like the movie.

Roger Newcomb previously interviewed Van on June 23rd, 2010 (the second to last day of filming on ATWT, at the Brooklyn studios) and he also talked about OCCUPANT then:

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In his brief OCCUPANT interview, he describes Danny as a “nice, normal kind of unassuming guy” who “through extraordinary circumstances he gets to take over his grandmother’s lease and he realizes he got a lot more than he bargained for!” There’s not a lot of content in this brief (45-second) interview that isn’t also elsewhere, but he looks great (!), so it’s definitely worth a quick peek (no, I’m not shallow, really!). In it,

But perhaps most importantly, he says, “I’ve seen it” and am “happy with my performance.” He also told Michael Fairman that “It is beautifully shot” and in an earlier interview with Michael, he said, “The cinematography was stunning and it looks so beautiful, and that is weird to say for a horror film, even though it’s kind of more like a psychological thriller than a horror film. I play ‘a guy’, and I cannot say much more than that. It is an interesting script, and it’s creepy.”

Van fans are just waiting for the chance to be able to echo those sentiments!

Thorsten Kaye, Cody Horn, and other cast members

In addition to Van, who is the main character, the film also stars four-time Daytime Emmy nominee Thorsten Kaye, well-known to daytime fans as professor Patrick Thornhart from One Life to Live and Zach Slater on All My Children. Thorsten plays “Joe” the doorman in the film (so you can imagine my surprise as a non-ABC-watched when I realized that without the mustache he’s actually a serious leading man!).

Among highlights of his OCCUPANT interview, he says, “I’m not sure who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy.” Curiouser and curiouser….

Damon L. Jacobs of WeLoveSoaps published a great and thoughtful (and long!) series based on an interview with Thorsten which I started to blog on…but then I got sidetracked. Now that we have a release date, I may have to go dig up that post and finish it! In the meantime, to read the four-part, written interview, click here to read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Among highlights for Van fans, Thorsten says:

I can’t wait till people watch it and say what they think. Especially because of Van, this role could make him a star.

The cast includes what appear to be a number of New York-based actors (at least judging by the heavy dose of Law and Order credits on the actors’ biographies) – who play an agent (?) who advises Danny on what he needs to do to keep the apartment, some neighbors – and actress Cody Horn, who plays Sharleen Hunt.

At one point, the (first?) 17-minutes or so of the movie were inadvertently posted on Vimeo, so some eagle-eyed fans got an unexpected sneak peek before it was pulled. If you’re desperate for more insight into the film, there are a few spoilery comments available around the ‘net (including some observations about Sharleen) at luke_noah LiveJournal among other sites (but don’t click through to the LiveJournal site if you absolutely do not want to be spoiled!).

[spoiler]Among the tidbits implied in comments on the leaked excerpt is that there are scenes involving Van with a less-than-full-clad woman, though the exact nature of their relationship is still subject to interpretation! Though I’m not sure it’s confirmed, I think Sharleen is the woman in question.[/spoiler]

What we do know for sure about Sharleen is what Cody says in her OCCUPANT interview, saying Sharleen has “a zest for life and a zest for Danny Hill, too!” (Won’t we all?!)

Incidentally, many of the fan sites have reported that Cody Horn is Billy Magnussen’s girlfriend. I can’t verify or disprove this using any legitimate sources, but there is some evidence supporting this possibility. Namely,

  • We know from a number of interviews that Billy has a girlfriend (and more than one hit has been received at this Luke and Reid site searching on those terms!)
  • We know that Billy attended a NYC preview screening of OCCUPANT from Van’s WeLoveSoaps interview
  • And, we have images of Cody and Billy together, like this one from last year’s Deathly Hallows Part 1 premiere, courtesy of EllasPortfolio on Flickr

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The Building

Interestingly, both Van and Thorsten mention in interviews that they feel that the (other) star of the movie is the actual apartment building itself. Van mentions that almost the entire film is shot in the apartment. Says Thorsten:

The main star of the movie is the apartment, at least that was how I was reading it. It was cool to see how a building – something that apparently doesn’t have a soul, doesn’t have a mind – can take over somebody else’s.

Blair confirms that “The apartment number in the film is 1003 and it was filmed on the 10th floor.”

Incidentally, Van notes in his June WeLoveSoaps interview that the apartment the film was shot in was actually rent controlled!

(BTW, I just took a quick peek at his December BlazinRy interview liveblog and though it was billed as an OCCUPANT interview, he didn’t really get a chance to say much about it.)

The Haunted Ashgrove?

A quick scan of the OCCUPANT Facebook site shows that the page admins have posted several links to sites on the web that talk about “the Ashgrove mystery” or “the haunted Ashgrove.” The main premise of these sites is that “mysterious things” seem to happen to people who live live in apartments in Ashgrove ending in 03.

The truth is stranger than fiction? You be the judge. 🙂

Incidentally, the Wiki link no longer exists; only an explanatory placeholder remains.

[spoiler]This page has been deleted. The concern was: Article appears to be a hoax promoting a film called the Occupant. External links provided are basically the only references for this "building"…

If you actually visit the sites, they all have very similar, though reformatted examples of the same content. They have been posted to a variety of different free sites, so it’s a great example of inexpensive and creative guerilla marketing![/spoiler]

A.k.a. The Belnord?

In the meantime, Nuke fan bartleby hypothesized that the building standing-in for the Ashgrove could be the Belnord, which is indeed a luxury apartment on the Upper West Side. With current listings starting at at $13,500 per month for a 3BR apartment, it’s no wonder most of us mere mortals would require rent control to afford an address in this neighborhood.

It looks like he’s right on the money here. Take a look at a screen cap from Trailer 3:

Occupant Arches_thumb[7]

Here is a close-up from the OCCUPANT publicity gallery(left) next to one from the Belnord site (right):

image_thumb[16]Belnord Arch_thumb[1]

Looks pretty good! You can also see the similarities in the window and ledge configuration between the photos from the Belnord site (both photos below) and the screen cap above, as well.

Belnord History_thumb[2] Belnord Side_thumb[2]

But of course, here’s the clincher – Thorsten Kaye as Joe the doorman (left), and a photo from the Belnord site (right):

image_thumb[19] Belnord Doorman_thumb[2]

Natch. There are certainly many doormen at luxury New York apartments that Thorsten Kaye’s archetype could be confused with! 🙂

Ironically, if you look at the pictures of the Ashgrove on the sites linked to on the OCCUPANT Facebook, they actually don’t quite look like the building in the film! For starters, if Danny’s grandmother’s apartment is on the 10th floor, there’s something missing in the Ashgrove photos….(!)

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Also, interestingly, the photos of Danny/Van leaning out a window appear to come from a building which is neither the “Ashgrove” (as pictured above) or the Belnord (judging by the circles above and below his window).

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OCCUPANT Trailers

Last, in case you haven’t seen them yet, here they are…

Trailer 1 (Teaser)

Trailer 2

Trailer 3

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