HORROR STORIES: On the Set of Bride of Violence

This series is a record of the wild events which took place during the filming of Bride of Violence in early 2017.

Story 3: Crossing the Creek

Among the many challenges we met on location forBride of Violence, including but not limited to no cell service, no electricity, cold temperatures and difficult travel in and out of the remote valley we filmed in, we also had to deal with the always unpredictable element of water.

A creek divided the property in half. Most of our time was spent on one side but there were a few locations I wanted to showcase on the other. Beyond that, I’d written this creek into the story of the film with characters playing scenes next to it, crossing it to get where they are going and sometimes falling in…


As seen above, lead actor Dylan Bronte took a brave fall into the frigid water twice (once he was wet and cold, why not make him do a second take, right?). He took it like a champ and we had a small team to remove wet clothes and get him warm. That was a relatively controlled experience. Director of photography Jared Kovacs and I had to cross the creek several times or be in the middle of it for shots. After theorizing several ways to do this right, we decided to use Jared’s (or really his mom’s) ladder. Stretched from shore to shore, this tool kept us mostly dry. Still, carrying a camera (the only one we had) over rushing water isn’t for the faint of heart, no matter what you’re standing on. At some point while waiting for our additional crew and cast to arrive for a scene, Jared and I had enough time to stage this silly moment. I believe our assistant director Mike Rea captured the Kodak moment on our make-shift bridge.

I suppose this doesn’t sound like much of a horror story yet and perhaps this edition of my Bride of Violence production memories is more an adventure tale than anything else. However, there was fear present when we had to take vehicles across the creek. Producer Katie Hauer and I had been over it before in the truck belonging to John, location owner. Of course,  his vehicle was more heavy duty than anything in our arsenal.

I believe we went over first in Katie’s stepdad’s Suzuki. I warned her not to slow down halfway but nerves got to her and she did. I don’t think she was really stuck in the creek bed (if she had been, it would have been real hell) but she needed Mike and I to get out of the vehicle, knee-deep in water and push. This probably helped her confidence more than the Suzuki. What matters is that it reached the other side, only this wasn’t the last time we had to attempt this feat.

The Suzuki was out of commission after going once over and back if I remember correctly. The fuses were burnt out or something like that; we had lost our best vehicle for this terrain. So next up was my 98 Ford Ranger. I think this truck was a little beat up before it entered my life but I’ve definitely since put a few years on its life in a very short time.

Looking at the creek, I saw where you could ride a rocky plateau beneath the water for a good part of the crossing. Unfortunately you have to turn off from it at the end unless you want your front bumper to meet with some good-sized rocks. Jared captured this video the first time I went over:


Some of these trips blur together in my mind. At some point we had a good majority of our cast on the other side and I remember hauling ass up the narrow mountain road (much less traveled than the ones on the other side) to get us to a spectacular spot, worth all this effort. I went up twice, probably pushing the truck much more than I should have but at this point we were paranoid about getting stuck on a slope. Before the second run, cast and crew hopped in my bed and sat on the edge (as most people who ride in truck beds stupidly do). I remember saying something like, “Sit your fucking asses down.” They grumbled at my reprimand but not a single one complained at the direction once we’d reached the top. Actor Craig Hensley remarked, “People pay good money for that at Disney Land.”

The truck didn’t do so well on the journey back across the creek. At some point, someone had the bright idea to throw big rocks in the creek to help build a platform for the tires to travel on. Though full of good intentions, I believe this plan led to both Dania’s truck bottoming out on her crossing and my truck blowing a tire on its way back. We were in a rush and a flat tire was not a problem I wanted to deal with while trying to “get my day” (film all the scenes slated for that production date). Thankfully, Craig Hensley came to the rescue, telling me to not worry one bit about the tire. He fixed it.

If you’re not sick of watching trucks go across creeks yet, here’s a video of Dania’s journey:


With a spare tire on, my Ranger went back to work. But it was blowing tons of white smoke out the tail pipe. Being vehicle-stupid, I had no idea what this meant and figured it might be the end of this truck which served both the cinema and I well on a few productions. I was happy when a couple days later, Brian Stone (one of our cast) reported, “It’s just blowback.” I guess water got sucked into the tailpipe on the crossing and it would eventually work its way out.

It did. The truck still runs and has done much worse than cross creeks this year. That was not the end of horror on the set of Bride of Violence.

-Travis Mills