“Where’s Rose” tackles social issues amidst COVID


"Where's Rose" WeFunder page

Poster of “Where’s Rose,” a social horror film set to release in summer 2021.

“Where’s Rose” is a social horror film directed by John Mathis set to release in summer 2021, with the main cast boasting Ty Simpkins as Eric Daniels, most notable for his roles as Harley Keener in “Iron Man 3” and Gray Mitchell in “Jurassic World”.

The conversations [they had] seemed to be part of their normal everyday lives, but reflecting on them years later, they realized what sort of negative impact it had on their mindsets or the ones of their peers.

“When a little girl (Skyler Elyse Philpot) is found after going missing the day before, only her older brother (Simpkins) recognizes the evil force that has returned in her place. The film centers on the Daniels, a white middle-class family,” the WeFunder page of the film said regarding the synopsis.

Many of the social aspects dealt with in the film have personal connections with the production crew. The majority of the production crew grew up playing varsity sports and recalled locker room conversations that they’d had at that age. The conversations seemed to be part of their normal everyday lives, but reflecting on them years later, they realized what sort of negative impact it had on their mindsets or the ones of their peers.

“Growing up, I played football, I played lacrosse and I grew up in a very big sports household and there’s a lot of microaggressions,” Justin Boswick, one of the producers of “Where’s Rose” said. “There’s a lot of things that at first glance you think, ‘Oh, that’s just so and so,’ and you just brush it off, but once you take a moment to really analyze the culture of toxic masculinity you realize that it has some really lasting effects especially when you get older and step away from things to how we handle ourselves. I mean, growing up and being told to toughen up all the time has a long term effect on people, and we’re hoping that with this film we can start highlighting these things and say ‘Hey, these behaviors aren’t acceptable, this isn’t good.’”

 The film has also had to follow extremely strict COVID guidelines, as they are one of 40 approved Screen Actors Guild (SAG) productions amongst feature films, TV shows, commercials, and music videos at the moment.

Producer Justin Boswick discusses how the movie discusses toxic masculinity. (Boomika Velineni)

“So, the first thing you do here before you even get on set is to check in with [the COVID compliance officer] and answer a questionnaire and get a temperature check and make sure you’re not symptomatic and then you’re allowed on set. But then again, it’s a lot of social distancing, hand sanitizer, and  making sure everyone is staying up-to-date with their testing,” Boswick said.

“Where’s Rose” has also faced many challenges aside from the pandemic. There have been multiple location changes and the weather hasn’t helped the filming process either.  

“On the day production began, Aug. 3, Hurricane Isaias made landfall in North Carolina, and while we weren’t hit directly by the hurricane; we had torrential downpours and flash floods in our area for the first two weeks of filming. On Sunday, Aug. 9, one of our off days, there was an earthquake that woke us up and shook the house we were filming [and] living in a bit,” Boswick said.

The producers have had to constantly change their schedules around and make sure to film inside when it was raining and push outdoor filming for the better weather days. Boswick would handle schedule changes with other producers hours earlier before any of the actors showed up to set. They had the task of making sure that everything was situated and in place in addition to making sure that everyone knew what they were doing. Shots for the day were reviewed over with the director, John Mathis, and the director of photography, Eric Gesualdo. Before the actors could enter the set, they had to check in with the COVID compliance officer on site and undergo rapid COVID testing. Actors would only be allowed to remove their masks when filming in front of the camera.

Actor Ty Simpkins plays the lead role, Eric Daniels, in “Where’s Rose”, as well as being one of the movie producers. (Boomika Velineni)

“I’ve spoken to the mayor personally about the film as well as the county managers, the city managers, the local film commission, and they’ve been really helpful with helping provide us testing, like rapid testing as well as other things in regards to COVID safety. But it’s definitely nothing to take lightly and as soon as we decided that we’re going to make this film this summer, it’s been top priority every single day– How can we make this safe? Because nobody should die making a film. You gotta make a safe work environment. So, if you don’t have the tools to properly do it, don’t do it. If you do, [then] really spend the time and consider making sure every base is checked,” Boswick said.

Ty Simpkins is also one of the producers for “Where’s Rose” in addition to being the main character.

“[I]t’s been a lot different cause this is the first time that I’ve been number one on the calling list sheet, which basically means that I’m the actor that’s in most of the scenes. It’s my first time doing that, it’s my first time producing, and it’s just been a great learning experience, and ‘cause I’ve never been a part of the pre-production side of things, so I’ve got to be there every step of the way. When we made the WeFunder [page] I was in one of the videos that we made for that. Just advertising the film more, you know, I would just make more of an effort to talk about it, promote it and just get people excited about it. I’m not a producer like Justin where I’m reaching out to everyone; I’m more of an advertisement kind of poster boy for the film,” Simpkins said.

Simpkins has acted in two horror films prior to “Where’s Rose”; “Insidious” and “Insidious: Chapter 2” as the recurring character Dalton Lambert. In the first part, Simpkins’ character was possessed, and then in the sequel has to watch his father suffer on behalf of a murderous spirit.

“At this point in my life I know the horror genre pretty well, and this being a horror movie made it easier navigating everything and understanding how John, our director, wants the jumpscares to look and how he wants my character to react because I’ve done it before. So [Insidious] really helped understanding the horror genre more and helping me prepare for the character more in the sense of  like, okay I know when to act scared and how to act scared and I know how John wants this to look based on my side of things,” Simpkins said.