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 4: Icy Waterfall

This will be the last of my recollections of our near-death experiences while making our horror film and in many ways I saved the “best” for last.

On our first scout to the isolated location near Globe, Arizona where we filmed most of this movie, we marveled at a waterfall within sight of the property’s cabin (where we would be staying). At that time, a roaring current fell on the rocks below however when we returned to film in late January, the waterfall was frozen.

This presented a stunning image I haven’t seen on screen very often and I considered it a fortunate development. On the first day of shooting we captured the characters marveling at this sight, only a trickle of water coming down, and we also picked up several b-roll shots of the fall for our opening credit sequence. We knew the ice and snow was melting but as to how fast and what the next evolution of the fall would look like, we had no clue.

There are several surreal sequences, visions inspired by the book of Revelation, in Bride of Violence. One of these in the original script involved seeing Christ with a blade coming out of his mouth. As usual, ideas evolve a lot on our sets. I decided that it should be Dennis, the lead character, and not Christ who has the pointed object protrude from his mouth. The new setting I picked for this scene, originally script for “woods”, was the waterfall.


As you see in the video, this wasn’t the easiest spot to get to. The ice had melted in the last few days. We discussed the possibility that pieces of this frozen water might come down from the fall. I climbed up for Jared to frame the shot before Dylan Bronte, playing Dennis, came out in his wardrobe. There was no sign of danger as I waited on the rocks.

Dylan replaced me, wearing a white angelic robe. In his mouth we fixed a pointed object covered with foam and then we began filming. These are dialog-less visions and fairly simple to film but also the kind you have to get just right with every camera and actor movement on point. I would guess it was a few takes in when some ice came off the top of the waterfall. This was the first we’d seen. It crashed onto the rocks not far from Dylan. All tense and concerned for the actor’s safety, we rushed through a couple more takes and got him out of there. However, it was not the last time we visited this unpredictable environment.

There seemed no better place to capture one of the final shots of the movie. Of course, now we had seen the dangers of filming on the rocks below the fall. Debate occurred mostly between myself and our AD Mike Rea as to whether we should film there again. This time the lead actress Brooklyn Wilde would be in the hot spot, along with myself and Jared Kovacs, the DP, with our camera now filming from the rocks.

Mike Rea and our small team stood back and kept an eye on the top of the fall. They would warn us if anything came down. Our plan was to brace for impact and cover our heads so that at least we’d have some protection from the falling ice. Of course, when they did warn us, we all just tensed up. No one covered their heads but luckily the ice fell to our side, not hurting talent/crew or camera. Watch the moment in this video:


This was the last shot we got before wrapping out of that challenging and dangerous location. Some may say we took unnecessary risks. I believe we approached every situation conscious and communicative of the dangers ahead. I also believe that we are at just as much risk driving on the freeway every day, only under the illusion of safety in our every day lives. During the filming of Bride of Violence, there were no illusions.

-Travis Mills