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Piedmont Triad filmmakers Mourn Tragic, Unexpected Loss of Ross

by Mark Burger

The Piedmont Triad filmmaking communitywas rocked on May 4 by the unexpected deathof filmmaker and film financier Adam Ross,only 37 years old. Ross died of complicationsfrom viral memingitis, contracted during a boutwith shingles.Ross was the founder of Adam RossProductions LLC and the executive producer ofsuch films as Dogs of Chinatown, Children ofthe Hunt and Z13: The Zombie Within.Friends and fellow filmmakers reacted withshock and disbelief overRoss’ untimely passing, andsome wondered initially if itweren’t some sort of hoax.(Those who knew AdamRoss can well attest to hiseccentric and unique sense ofhumor.)

Tragically, it was not.In an e-mailed message,Blake Faucette of All AcesMedia, the productionteam that made Dogs ofChinatown, conveyed the sadnews.“Ross was definitelya unique individual whomarched to the beat ofhis own drum,” Faucettewrote. “I remember fondlyon several occasions Rosstelling me how proud he wasto have his name associatedwith our film, Dogs ofChinatown.

We have beenand will always be gratefulfor the opportunity andcreative freedom that Rossallowed us while making ourfilm. He will be missed.”“Horrible… a tremendousshock,” said RebeccaClark, the Piedmont TriadFilm Commissioner, as sherecalled hearing the news.Like many, she couldn’tbelieve it when she firstheard about it.“It’s such a loss for thelocal film industry becausehe had a passion forsupporting local filmmakers and keeping projects here in the region,” Clark said. Earlier this month, Clark attended the screening of Dogs of Chinatown at the Garage in Winston-Salem, an event that was a rousing success. “I was so impressed,” she said. “It was so exciting and I was so happy to see he was a part of it. It is a loss. It’s very sad.” “He was a fun guy and an interesting fellow,” said Richard Clabaugh, a principal in Crimson Wolf Productions, the Lewisville-based production company that acquired Dogs of Chinatown for distribution. “I’m beside myself. I’m in shock.” John Rushton, a partner in Crimson Wolf, recalled Ross as “a real maverick who was full of energy about making film and did so much for the local independent filmmaker, usually on just a pitch or a single interesting idea.” In only a few short years, Ross had been heavily involved in the financing and production of numerous independent films, all of them showcasing the burgeoning filmmaking talent in the region. “The dude gave me my life to be a filmmaker,” recalled filmmaker Matt Moore, who probably worked the most with Ross over the years, both on short films and such features as Children of the Hunt, Day of the Living and Dawn of the Redneck Samurai (all of which Moore directed, as well as serving on additional, multiple capacities for each). With those three films near completion, and the horror anthology Vault of Darkness 3-D in the midst of production, “it would be stupid to quit — and an insult to him,” Moore said. “I totally owe it to him to complete everything he invested in.” “We’ve got the ‘do,’” said Moore. “We just need a little more time to achieve the ‘it.’” “It was just starting to pop,” he added. “Dogs of Chinatown was shot locally and it kicks ass. A couple of the others are just about done. We have five scripts on deck. We were moving forward, looking ahead.” “Ross was a great patron to the indie film scene in North Carolina,” said Micah Moore, director of Dogs of Chinatown. “[He] gave a lot of artists the chance to pursue their dreams.” “The guy was a nut, don’t get me wrong,” Matt Moore said with a laugh. “He didn’t like shoelaces but he loved movies. He loved making them. He loved talking about them. Here was a guy who saw what I was trying to do and said, ‘I like what you’re doing. I want to be a part of it.’” Faucette, also a producer of Children of the Hunt and Z13, echoed those sentiments, also with a laugh. “He was crazy, and we had our differences, but we’re very,

very grateful to him. Not a lot of people would give us the money (to do Dogs of Chinatown) and then let us go do it. He was a good dude.” For the independent filmmaking contingent based in and around the Piedmont Triad, Ross was one of their own — someone who reveled, often quite demonstratively, in the creative process. When Matt Moore was looking for an office, Ross recommended the space he was about to vacate on Lyndon Street. “I can’t even begin to describe what the office looked like,” Moore recalled. “There would be a threeweek-old cheeseburger on his desk next to a camera made out of wood and glue, plastic and rubber bands, but you could pull film through it and it was functional — a working prototype. There would be empty pizza boxes from years before, and on top of those would be a new script he’d been looking over. You’ve never seen anything like it… I know I hadn’t!” Many of those who commented for this story still expressed disbelief at how rapidly Ross’ condition deteriorated. He’d been suffering from shingles, and was therefore too ill to attend the Dogs of Chinatown screening at the Garage, “but we never thought it would develop into something like this,”

Faucette said. Filmmaker Jay Jones, who worked with Ross on Children of the Hunt, Day of the Living and the “Galatia” segment of Vault of Darkness 3-D (which Ross himself directed), called him “a one of a kind.” In the segment, Jones plays what may be an actor’s dream role: the Devil. “I come from a theater background, and he was really looking for something over the top,” he recalled. “It was a true guerilla production, and good fun.” “He never tried to explain who he was, never made any excuses,” Jones continued. “He moved at his own speed. He could sit down and blitz through a dozen ideas, and if you could keep up, all the better!” “He put a lot of guys to work in the Triad,” said Jones. “He had a vision.” The official website for Adam Ross Productions is still up and running at www.adamrossproductions.com.

To comment on this story, e-mail Mark Burger at marksburger@yahoo.com.



AdamRoss (1970- 2009) played an integral role in the Triad independent filmscene before passing last week. He was also one of a kind. (courtesyphoto)

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