The Last Stop in Yuma County Filmmaker Opens Up About Debut

Writer/director Francis Galluppi’s feature debut, “The Last Stop in Yuma County,” showcases his ability to craft a tense and engaging neo-noir within the confines of a single diner. Despite the challenges posed by this setting, Galluppi secured a talented cast of veterans to bring his expertly written script to life, cementing his impressive transition from shorts to feature directing. The film will hit theaters and Digital on May 10th.

At an isolated Arizona rest stop, a weary knife salesman finds himself trapped in a life-or-death scenario. As he awaits a fuel delivery, two ruthless bank robbers arrive, holding him hostage. With their ill-gotten gains in tow, the robbers are determined to protect their fortune by any means necessary. The salesman must now navigate a high-stakes situation, where cruelty and cold steel threaten to end his journey forever.

The cast of the film includes Jim Cummings, Jocelin Donahue, Richard Brake, Sierra McCormick, Nicholas Logan, and Michael Abbott Jr.

ComicBook interviewed Galluppi about his film’s development, his collaboration with the cast, and his upcoming projects.

The Last Stop in Yuma County Filmmaker Opens Up About Debut
(Photo: Well Go USA)

In choosing this project for their feature directing debut, the filmmaker considered several ideas. However, this particular short film emerged as the first to achieve fruition and became the chosen vehicle for their transition to feature-length directing.

“I created two short films, ‘High Desert Hell’ and ‘Gemini Project.’ I was fortunate to meet producer James Claeys. As I didn’t have a feature script readily available, I was surprised at how quickly a feature film came to fruition.”

When the opportunity arose to create a feature film, my focus shifted to crafting a concise and contained story. While some ideas from previous drafts may have influenced the script, they had likely been lingering in my mind subconsciously. The impetus for this specific story emerged when the opportunity to make a feature film presented itself.

In crafting this unique genre blend of thriller, noir, Western, and drama, I found inspiration in specific filmmakers and films. While I sought to borrow elements from certain works, I also aimed to deviate from traditional genre expectations.

Over the past week, I’ve rewatched some of my favorite film noirs, and I’ve realized that I’ve drawn inspiration from them for my script. I may have unconsciously borrowed elements from certain movies, like the ending of Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, where money flies around.

Rewatching Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole,” I was struck by Kirk Douglas’s stabbing and its impact on the film’s atmosphere. I felt a noir influence, an aesthetic choice reinforced by the cinematography inspired by “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” and other gritty ’70s films. Despite shooting digitally, we emulated their grimy, evocative style.

The exceptional cast brought credibility to the limited diner setting. How did their genre experience influence the collaboration process? Did it significantly alter the original script, or did it remain faithful to the intended vision?

Meticulous planning laid the foundation for the film, but the cast truly elevated the story. Actors of their caliber inevitably enhance any project. The entire process was an evolution, from writing the script to casting. Each step led to changes and improvements: wardrobe, makeup, scene partners, and editing. Every element contributed to the final masterpiece.

Compared to the movie’s final cut, the initial script underwent significant improvements. I envisioned it as a dark comedy, but it was not initially clear to others. However, with actors like Jim Cummings, Nick Logan, and Connor Paolo onboard, the comedic elements came to life, fulfilling my original vision.

The biggest unexpected challenge was not something I anticipated. It was a hurdle that I had not foreseen.

It wasn’t difficult to direct 15 actors. I had a great time. The challenges were similar to those I’ve faced on short films. Old cars often malfunction, which is why you’ll see people pushing them in ‘Yuma,’ ‘High Desert Hell,’ and ‘Gemini Project.’ This time, I anticipated the problem and hired a full-time mechanic, but it still happened, and we had to push cars.

Weather presented significant challenges that hindered our progress. Despite expectations of warm weather, we encountered torrential downpours and strong winds, disrupting operations and causing delays. When working with such talented individuals, however, the challenges were mitigated, allowing for a smoother overall experience.

I appreciate how an hour into the movie, it completely transforms from expectations. It takes a similar route but introduces an entirely new direction for the characters. Were there different versions of this script or story where this shift occurred?

From inception, the intention was to culminate in this event an hour into the film. Conceptualised as a film noir, the narrative revolves around the knife salesman’s journey. The pivotal moment arrives when he confronts the dilemma of choosing between integrity and monetary gain.

I always envisioned the plot unfolding this way. Despite receiving feedback suggesting alternative endings, I stood by my original vision. It’s interesting to note that while I make an effort to avoid reviews and comments, people have shared varying opinions on the film’s pacing, with some expressing concerns and others commending its progression. Ultimately, it’s impossible to please everyone, and I believe the unexpected nature of the events is one of the film’s key strengths.

Congratulations on the success of Evil Dead.

Thank you so much!

This is an incredibly intense situation that must be both thrilling and daunting.

Indeed, it’s highly extraordinary.

I just spoke with Sébastien two weeks ago about the Evil Dead franchise. Though I understand you can’t discuss details, I’d love to hear what excites you about your entry into this world. What sets your approach apart from the cabin in the woods and high-rise settings we’ve seen before? How will you put your unique stamp on this beloved franchise?

As a devoted fan of the Evil Dead franchise, I hold it dear to my heart. It ignited my passion for filmmaking. Unlike the unattainable Hollywood spectacles I grew up admiring, Evil Dead’s authenticity resonated with me. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell’s unwavering enthusiasm while creating the film inspired me to pursue filmmaking with my friends. My appreciation for Evil Dead permeates my workspace. The passion of the Ghost House team makes them exceptional collaborators.

Comparing the original Evil Dead and Army of Darkness to Fede Álvarez’s reboot, each entry presents distinct differences. From the original’s atmosphere to the reboot’s modernized elements, each film offers a unique experience. Which entry holds a particular preference among the saga’s fans remains a matter of personal taste and preference.

I appreciate every “Evil Dead” film. They’ve consistently delivered exceptional quality. Each movie holds a special place in my heart for unique reasons. “Army of Darkness,” which debuted during my formative years, left an unforgettable mark. “Evil Dead” profoundly influenced me as an 18-year-old. Fede Alvarez and Lee Cronin’s contributions are also outstanding. While I have an affinity for the original “Evil Dead” as my go-to comfort movie, I enjoy watching them all equally.

Every installment of the Evil Dead franchise offers a satisfying experience, ensuring that viewers can’t make a mistake in their choice.

The show is exceptional, offering a compelling and engaging experience.

We’ve been treated to 15 hours of Bruce Campbell battling Deadites over three seasons, yet people still express disbelief that he’s not returning.

When Ash vs. Evil Dead aired, it was a weekly social event at my house. We’d order pizza and gather to watch the latest episode, making it an unforgettable shared experience that I fondly вспоминаю.

*The Last Stop in Yuma County* premieres in theaters and digitally on May 10th.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Contact Patrick Cavanaugh on Twitter.

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