Writer-Director Castille Landon On Her Film 'Fear of Rain'
February 19, 2021
This past week, I was lucky enough to speak with filmmaker Castille Landon about her horror feature, Fear of Rain. Landon, best known for her acting work in films such as Sex Ed and Apple of My Eye, makes her writer-director debut with this project. During our thirty-minute discussion, I was pleasantly surprised by Landon’s tenacity and sweetness. But I was most excited to speak with her about the subtext of Fear of Rain as a woman in film and could have spent the rest of the day sharing our love for subtle dialogue and set safety.
The film follows teenager Rain Burroughs (Madison Iseman), her father John (Harry Connick Jr.), and her mother Michelle (Katherine Heigl), as Rain struggles to gain control of her schizophrenia. Her terrifyingly real hallucinations lead her to believe her neighbor has kidnapped a young girl and the only person who even remotely believes her is classmate Caleb (Israel Broussard) — who may also be a figment of her imagination.
Not only did I get to chat with Landon about being a female filmmaker, character building, and outlining, we did on the very day that Fear of Rain was released — and Landon was rightly excited.
"It feels great! I’m excited to be attached to some material that’s not just family and kids. There’s a local screening we are doing here in Tampa with the whole crew that I will be live tweeting!"
When it comes to the film's message, Landon's choice to profile mental illness, specifically schizophrenia, stemmed from a desire to de-stigmatize the illness.
" I knew I wanted to tell a story of mental illness with the aim of de-stigmatizing it, and schizophrenia is the most stigmatized, most misunderstood, and most poorly portrayed mental illness in film," says Landon. "On top of that, as a filmmaker, it also gives you so much to sink your teeth into and devices to put your audience inside the character's mind."
How did she flag all of her storylines in the script to ensure everything was addressed and wrapped up to her satisfaction?
"I had help with that because it was challenging to keep up with. Not so much in the initial draft, but as you go through development, you forget what you changed, so keeping drafts separate was the most difficult. I used an excel spread sheet with all the plot points. I’m sure there’s a way to do it in Final Draft that’s much easier, but I don’t know how to do it!"
This writer agrees. Like I always joke, I'm probably only using about one percent of Final Draft's capabilities because there's so much!
In terms of Fear of Rain's plot, was Landon clear on the ending before she started writing?
"I knew the twist that I wanted at the end. I had the basic premise and the twist ending engineered and just went from there. Actually, the first draft was more of an indie drama, but it was harder to get financed so it evolved into something that was more of a mystery and then evolved again into what it is today."
But does she outline?
"I know I probably should, but I don’t!" admits Landon. "I always start with characters and then when I am ready to write, I can usually get to page thirty before I run out of steam conceptually. That’s why I love adapting because everything is already right there."
When it comes to the characters in this film particular, there was one above the rest that she found most interesting to write: Rain. "She is very much an extension of myself at that age. I approached her from the idea of just being a teenager and how I would react to the situation."
Landon also wore the directing hat on Fear of Rain and found that juggling multiple roles meant doing whatever was needed to best serve the film overall, including when to be precious about what she'd written.
"In terms out cutting something, when you get to set the decision is always whatever is going to work on the day. I actually rewrote a lot based on our locations. I am not someone who feels like they shouldn’t encourage the actors to play with the script, but on this film, we stayed pretty close because to the script because it works sort of like a puzzle. Every piece had importance to the story."
Speaking of the script, when did Landon know she had a solid draft ready to be shared with the world?
"I honestly don’t know… It took a while, for sure. I also know I am very likely to fall into the trap of sharing things too soon. I probably did share it with people too early on, but within the first or five drafts I felt this was something I could share with people I can trust. I think there’s only so much that you can see, so it takes stepping away from it, getting notes, and diving back in."
And what advice would she give her younger self?
"I think I would say don’t take notes personally and get used to rewrites, because writing is rewriting, as they say. It takes a while to accept the fact that your first draft is just that, and its maddening!"
Fear of Rain is now available to rent on VOD.
Written by: Sade' SellersSade’ Sellers is a screenwriter and producer based in Burbank, California. Originally from Michigan’s capital, Lansing, Sade’ has been working in the entertainment industry since 2009. In 2017, Sade’ was a finalist for Tv One’s Screenwriting competition for her teleplay The Replacement. This achievement motivated the network to hire her as a writer for their upcoming movie of the week event, Deadly Dispatch, which premiered on the platform in the summer of 2019. Through that production process, Sade’ met casting director Leah Daniels-Butler who was in the midst of staffing her production company, 1oneninety5. Sade’ then rose to the role of Vice President of Content Acquisitions and Development and spent the next year learning the ecosystem of film and television development from pitching to production. Using that experience, and bound at home due to COVID-19, Sade’ made a return to her first love, screenwriting, utilizing her free time to write new content. www.sadesellers.com