ByChad Eric Smith, writer at Creators.co

My name is Chad Eric Smith, the director, co-writer, and star of the short horror comedy "Dark Therapy." The film is about Erebus, a vampire who seeks psychiatric treatment for a phobia that impacts his way of life: an extreme and irrational fear of blood.

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In the summer of 2013, I met Washington, DC based actress Devin Nikki Thomas at a table read for a script by filmmaker Harold Jackson III. Right away, she and I clicked. I thought she was funny. We had a very similar sense of humor and I was impressed by her quick-wit. So, we did what all strangers do right away: We became Facebook friends. We then decided to collaborate creatively. For me, it was an exciting and empowering opportunity to bring to life the type of quirky character I’m attracted to as an actor, and for Devin to be executive producer of her first film through her production company, Unitivity Productions, LLC. In addition to being the executive producer, Devin plays Dr. Anne Rice, Erebus' therapist. Her character's name is a nod to the popular author of the series of novels The Vampire Chronicles.

The idea was to create a cinematic-looking comedic skit with an improvisational flair, similar to Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele." I’m also a big fan of Johnny Depp because of his knack for playing flamboyant, eccentric characters and I had recently seen him play a vampire in Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.” So, that was my initial inspiration. I began writing it in November of 2013 and then sent it to Devin and she added to it.

I named my vampire character “Erebus” because it is the name of the primordial deity who personifies darkness in Greek mythology. I liked the idea of his name representing something opposite of his harmless, apprehensive, and constantly mortified demeanor. I liked that juxtaposition and irony. I sent the script to special effects/make-up artists Carl Randolph and Robert “Bob” Yoho Jr. and they really liked it and came on board to help bring Erebus to life. Bob designed realistic-looking, custom-fit fangs for me and Carl did my make-up, nails, and gave me white eye contacts. Devin purchased my blousy shirt and lace front wig. Transforming into Erebus took a little over an hour in the make-up chair and really helped inform my mannerisms and voice.

Makeup artist Carl Randolph transforms Chad Eric Smith
Makeup artist Carl Randolph transforms Chad Eric Smith

In March of 2014, we shot our film in a single day! Omar Juarez (Bad/Splice), our awesome Director of Photography, also edited the film and did some cool color correction that really hit the nail on the head regarding my vision. He was assisted by Manuel Santos. My father, Jonathan Bey, is an Emmy award-winning producer and composed the film’s original score, making it sound simultaneously quirky and ominous. I told him to think of the music of composer Danny Elfman. Audio engineer Michael Balasia further enhanced the sound of the film and added a few really funny effects. The wonderful performances of actor Niko Tarlay and actress Honey St. Dennis definitely helped emphasize the comedic/horror balance, as well.

Later that year, "Dark Therapy" premiered at the now-closed West End Cinema as part of the 2014 Reel Independent Film Extravaganza in Washington, DC. It was a thrilling experience and the audience loved it! There was lots of hearty laughter. Soon after, at the National Press Club, the Television, Internet & Video Association of DC (TIVA-DC) awarded Unitivity Productions, LLC a Bronze Peer Award in the “Independent Short” category for “Dark Therapy” and awarded me the Gold Peer Award in the “Acting on Camera – Fiction Male” category.

In 2015, "Dark Therapy" continued to screen at various film festivals across the country, including the Indie Night Film Festival at the world famous TCL Chinese Theatre on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame! As we approach Halloween, it's beginning to go viral online and I'm very pleased! I hope you enjoyed it! For me, it's been an extremely gratifying experience to bring to life a truly unique character and I hope to expand Erebus' story very soon. :-)

2015 Hollywood premier of "Dark Therapy"
2015 Hollywood premier of "Dark Therapy"

Like Dark Therapy on Facebook & Follow me on Facebook @ ActorChadEricSmith

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