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An Interview with Travis Legge, Director of Reckoning

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2016

Films directed by Travis Legge on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie Reckoning - in a few words, what's it going to be about?


The official blurb is "Inspired by the ultra-violent revenge films of the 1970's and 1980's, Reckoning follows Justine, a young woman in the inner city as she hunts down, maims, tortures, and visits vengeance upon those responsible for killing her boyfriend." Which I'd say is pretty accurate. Reckoning is a story about love, loss and revenge.


Reckoning is based on a comicbook by you and Santiago Espina - so do talk about the comicbook for a bit, and how closely do you intend to follow your source material? And when you did the comic, did it ever occur to you to one day adapt it to the screen?


The comic was in many ways written as an homage to films like I Spit on Your Grave, Death Wish and Last House on the Left, with a little bit of The Crow mixed in for good measure. I always saw the story as cinematic, but at the time I knew a lot more about making indie comics than I did about making indie films. One of my first student film projects was an attempt to translate the story to the screen, which failed spectacularly, because I had no idea what I was doing, not only in terms of the technical aspects of filmmaking, but in terms of communicating with actors, scheduling, and all the various moving parts that go into making a film. On the comic, it was just Santiago and I working together. There are far fewer moving parts to coordinate on a comic than a film, and when I made that first attempt, I just had no freaking idea what I was doing. Now with a few features and who knows how many shorts under my belt, I figure I'm ready to go back and tackle the material.

As far as how closely we intend to follow the material, the events of the film will be played out very closely to what is presented in the comic. We are adding some more material to flesh out the relationship between Justine (Danielle Doetsch [Danielle Doetsch interview - click here]) and Mike (Josh Hoover) as well as the dynamic between Mike and his drug-dealing cousin Jay (Raymond Fanara), who is kind of responsible for the events of the story. Really, where the film will deviate from the comic is in the fleshing out of relationships that are painted in simple, broad strokes in the comic. We will take the opportunity to examine who the characters are and how they relate to one another in between the castrations, gore and gunfire.


You describe Reckoning as "inspired by the ultra-violent revenge films of the 1970s and 1980s" - care to elaborate on that?


I'm a huge fan of films like I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left, which explore the idea of striking back when the world visits terror upon you. I like that Idea a lot. I also like the idea of revenge being carried out in a brutal, visceral way. I like exploring the concept that the pursuit of revenge can lead someone to monstrous ends. I took a different path in the root cause for that revenge quest in Reckoning, because I think that a good revenge story doesn't necessarily require someone to be sexually assaulted in order to incite the level of rage and pain that opens the door to pursuing vengeance. Justine acts from a place of loss and pain, but she's never reduced to an object in her pursuit. Her agency is preserved throughout the film. This doesn't mean that Justine's not a victim of crime, circumstance or violence, but I think she comes to the same place as Jennifer in I Spit on Your Grave by taking a different route.


Other sources of inspiration when writing Reckoning?


The Crow was a HUGE inspiration on the process of creating Reckoning, both the comic and the film, in both regards. I don't know if I've ever seen love tainted by loss portrayed more masterfully (and beautifully) than in J.O. Barr's comic, and I really tried to tap into a similar energy in our story. There are more than a few pages of the comic that are direct homages to The Crow, and I have a feeling that's gonna make its way to the screen as well.


Let's return to the "ultra-violent" statement from above for a bit - what are we to expect in terms of violence and gore, how graphic will you get, how will it be achieved, effects-wise - and is there a line you refuse to cross?


We will be using a healthy mix of digital and practical effects to achieve the gore in film. The plan is to build from a firm practical base, then use some compositing tricks to sweeten the images and hopefully help sell some of the more... ambitious scenes.

In terms of lines we refuse to cross? Not really. There are a few scenes that fans of the comic might expect us to pull punches with when bringing the story to life. I promise, we won't.


What can you tell us about your movie's intended overall look and feel?


Our biggest influence in terms of look will probably be Death Wish. I love the aesthetic of that film and I think it matches the tone of the story we are telling. I'd be lying if I said that we are not hoping to pepper in a bit of Sam Raimi's sensibilities in some of the violence, and I think the fact that I'm a fan of his work will show through a bit in the final film. 


Do talk about your projected cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?


I know it's customary for a director to talk about how amazing and incredible their cast is, but we REALLY have an amazing and incredible cast. Our leading lady, Justine, is being played by Danielle Doetsch [Danielle Doetsch interview - click here], who I've had the pleasure of working with on Bloom (and to a lesser extent, on The Deadersons - Danielle is an extremely talented actress with no fear. Most importantly, though, she has a fundamental understanding of the emotional chaos that Justine needs to explore in the film. Watching her performance take shape during rehearsal has been breathtaking.

Brandon K. Jones is playing Victor, who is the main antagonist of the film. He's a gang leader who is looking to expand his territory, and his reach sets off the chain of events that brings Justine's wrath. His lieutenant, Lewis is played by Dustin Urness, who was in one of my first student films, Jimmy's Basement. The wheelman of Victor's crew, Eric, is played by Joe Mistretta, who I've had the pleasure of working with behind the camera before, as he did FX makeup on What They Say, and it's been a real treat to see him bring his acting talents to bear. Steve Heiden (who is also one of the executive producers on the film) is playing Nay-Nay, a nightclub bouncer in Victor's pocket. Shellilynn, a stunning model and actress from the Midwest, is playing the Moll, Victor's companion who is forced to make a tough decision, and she ROCKS it!

Ricardo Thurmond, coming off of a stint playing a bodyguard on Empire, is playing Ricky, one of Jay's enforcers/gang members. Dessi Maloney is making her feature film debut as Stacy, Jay's wisecracking, pot-smoking, sense-talking live-in girlfriend. Dave Juehring plays a pawnbroker who brings a little comic relief to the mix.

Several of our cast members I actually recruited from a stage production of the Rocky Horror Show I had the honor to perform in last October in Rockford, Illinois, put on by the (Usual) Suspects Theatre Troupe ( - if you have a chance, SEE ONE OF THEIR SHOWS! They do fabulous work).

Our male lead, Mike, is being played by Josh Hoover. It's Josh's first film, and I cannot WAIT to share his talent with the world. He's utterly adorkable in every way, and he is PERFECT for the role of Mike. Trish, who is Justine's best friend and voice of reason is played by Allison Didier, who encompasses this "take no shit, keeping it real," vibe that breathes glorious life into the character. Jay, who is the drug-dealing cousin of Mike, and the guy who is largely responsible for Mike's fate, is played by Raymond Fanara, who we were VERY lucky to land given his packed schedule (everybody wants him: he's pretty, he's natural, and he can sing. Triple threat!). Paco, one of the members of Victor's gang, is played by Kevin Poole, who brings an unexpected dark comedy to the role, elevating it from being "just another thug".

They are ALL wonderful people, and would very much like to be fed on set (another reason to support us on IndieGoGo!)


As far as I know, you're currently running a fundraiser for Reckoning - so do talk about your campaign for a bit?


We are running the campaign now through June 5th, 2016, with a goal of $5,000. We are offering digital downloads of the film, exclusive DVD copies of the film, discounted copies of the comic, and an IndieGoGo exclusive FULL COLOR version of the comic. We are also offering a limited number of associate producer credits, which come along with an invitation to join us on set during production.

We are also releasing a series of character posters, designed by the INCREDIBLY talented Carisa Wenstrom of which backers can get as well.

So if you want the film on DVD, want to get an inexpensive copy of the original comic, or want the full color comic, donate!


Once the budget's in place, what's the schedule? And even if it's waaay to early to ask, any idea when and where Reckoning will be released onto the general public yet?


We start filming on May 24th 2016 in Rockford, IL. We are scheduled to wrap principal photography on June 5th. The campaign will be going on during production... so we REALLY need people's support!

We do not have a firm release date yet, but we are definitely aiming for a 2016 release date. Probably Christmas.


Any future projects beyond Reckoning you'd like to share?


As soon as we wrap on Reckoning, I'll be shifting focus to two major releases for Aegis Studios (, my tabletop role-playing game publishing company. Slouching Towards Bethlehem will be coming out this summer for Contagion Second Edition, which is a campaign book that allows players to be in the center fo the action when a major change comes to the world of Contagion. Hopefully by the end of the year, we will also be releasing Glimpse the Beyond Second Edition, which I'm EXTREMELY excited about, as we are totally re-working the game and game world from the ground up, with the help of the INCREDIBLY talented CJ Hurtt. Any fan of Chtulhu Mythos inspired storytelling, Urban Legends or Creepypasta will want to check that out.

I also have a personal artfilm project called Summerland that I'm hoping to wrap up editing on this summer. If it turns out properly, I'll release it. If not, I'll stick it in a drawer.


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And follow us on Snapchat (which should be VERY interesting once we start shooting) at: reck_indie


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I've recently been published by Onyx Path Publishing in the Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition short story anthology Truth Beyond Paradox, which is available at and I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE everyone to check out.


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks for having me! Always a pleasure.


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD