Think twice if this Centerville grad invites you to dinner: you might be served along with the figgy pudding.
Ryan Nelson has buckets of blood, plenty of guts and a hapless office worker on the menu in his film "Mercy Christmas."
He swears there’s also yuletide cheer mixed in with all that dark humor and epic death.
“There’s a happy Christmas message at the end,” he said via phone. “It is a ‘Christmas movie.’ It is not just a fun movie and it is not just a horror movie.”
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The movie was written by Nelson and his wife Beth and is the first full-length feature film from No Mercy Pictures, the film company they started in 2009.
Directed by Ryan Nelson, Mercy Christmas is being distributed by Gravitas Ventures and will be released on iTunes, Amazon and other video-on-demand services starting Nov. 28.
Pre-order sales have also started.
The Nelsons are writing "Margo Lives," a vigilante/ dark humor movie to be filmed in Centerville about a woman fed up with the opioid crisis.
Nelson moved to Centerville in the fourth grade and still maintains friendships made here.
Mercy Christmas was edited by Matt Evans, who grew up with Nelson in Centerville. Nelson's brother, Andy, was the film's first assistant director.
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Based in Los Angeles since graduating from North Carolina School of Arts 15 years ago and setting his course towards "the dream," he fell in love with film after watching "Braveheart" at the now-closed Showcase Cinemas Cross Pointe, where he worked.
"All of a sudden, something clicked," Nelson said. " I can tell you where I was sitting (in the theater)."
Nelson said he went home that night and woke up his parents, Roger and Janet Nelson, to tell them the news.
“They said ‘that’s nice,’ and went back to sleep,” Nelson recalled with a laugh.
In high school, Nelson said he roped his co-workers and friend in his film production, including his Lethal Weapon-eque action/buddy parody called “Functional Travesty.”
Nelson won a Miami Cable Council Award for that hour-long project, which was followed between his junior and senior years by the action movie, “Trump Card.”
He recorded football games from the public access station now called Miami Valley Communications Council.
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After graduating college, Nelson worked on a list of TV shows and movies that includes “Supergirl,” “Battle Creek,” “The Avengers,” “Little Flockers,” “Spider-Man 3” and “Bad Boys II.”
He directed several short films before Mercy Christmas for his production company.
Filmed over 18 days in 2015 with a $250,000 budget, Mercy Christmas was partly inspired by the big Christmas gatherings Nelson’s mom put on and the Jewish
religious holidays his wife’s family held.
It stars Steven Hubbell as that hapless office worker selected to be dinner at a family’s Christmas dinner.
It was a first acting role for Hubbell, a friend Nelson roped into the project.
“We kind of wrote the screenplay based on him,” Nelson said. “He was fully committed. He gave actually more than I could have asked for.”
The film has been featured at a list of film festivals that includes Shriekfest, Sin City Horror Fest, Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Fest and Weihnacht Film Fest in Berlin, Germany.
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