LEWISTON — Sean Wallace walked into the audition at Praxis Production Studios last December to read for the part of a British businessman, turned on a southern accent when he was done, and walked out playing the bad man who wears black in “The Damned One.”
The supernatural Western set in the 1800s, shot entirely in the Twin Cities this summer, debuts next week with Wallace as gang leader Arthur Jackson.
“He’s a very complicated character, he’s a man in trouble,” said Wallace, 53, from Auburn. “And he’s going to do anything it takes to get out of trouble.”
“The Damned One” is director and co-writer Colby Michaud’s first feature-length film. Michaud, 27, has headed Praxis for seven years, doing video work for clients around Maine.
The 90-minute movie, largely shot in woods in Auburn, follows cowboy John Tyler and his new wife, Dixie. They’re jumped by Jackson’s gang during a cattle drive and Tyler has to decide whether to sell his soul to the devil to save them both.
Bernie Button, Jennifer Fox, Paul Menezes, Glenn Atkins and Erik Moody also star in the film.
Michaud and Linda Hildonen co-wrote the script. Developer Tom Platz and Chip Morrison were co-executive producers.
It premieres next Friday, Dec. 8, at The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center on Cedar Street with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m., movie at 7:30 and a Q&A with Colby, Hildonen and the cast at 9:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $30 for the gala event.
Michaud said the evening is part debut, part celebration for the entirely Maine-made film. It was shot by Michaud on a Cannon C100 with a $20,000 budget.
He also hopes it’s the first film of many: Michaud has plans for three short films next year and another feature-length in 2019.
“I’m very happy with it and I’m excited to share it with everyone,” he said. “We made all the mistakes, I know what to do, what not to do, for the next time. It only excites me to move on to the next project.”
After the event next week, the only local showing planned so far, he has a goal of submitting “The Damned One” to at least 100 film festivals.
Wallace, who plays gang leader Jackson, has acted in Community Little Theatre productions since 2010, including “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Spamalot.” He’s also been the regular emcee and host for the Franco Center’s Medieval Feasts.
His daughter Sophie did the makeup for “The Damned One.”
“I’ve done French taunting, I’ve done German doctors, a Jewish father — I do lots and lots of accents and characters, that’s one of my strong points,” Wallace said. “The more I read, the more I really connected with (Jackson). He’s not a very nice guy. The film is about doing what you’ve got to do to survive.”
The movie has action and drama, and, he thinks, pays off for viewers in how sharply it all comes together.
“I think people are going to be absolutely blown away,” he said. “It’s been an adventure, and I like adventures, and I think the audience will have an adventure, too.”