“Gallows Hill:” an American Film Produced in Colombia

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Before Gallows Hill became a film, screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio and executive producer David Higgins conceived the story for a locale like Massachusetts, New England, in the northern United States, known for its stories of witches and ghosts. Three years after consolidating this idea, Higgins had a chance to travel to Bogota, Colombia to meet with the company Five7 Media, with which he was seeking to develop another of his projects. Unknown to him at the time, the team he met in those discussions would end up shooting Gallows Hill in early 2013.

So it was that three months before beginning the shooting process, D’Ovidio adapted the script to a Colombian context. It tells the story of an American who travels to Bogota with his future wife so that she can be reunited with her daughter. The three of them and two Colombian friends embark on a journey to Medellin. Suddenly a torrential downpour damages his car and they are forced to seek refuge in a grim hotel. They soon realize that the owner has a big secret that will place their lives at risk.

This 86-minute film was shot over 20 days in the plains region near Bogota with a team of 70 people. 89% of the film’s team was Colombian, including the pre-production and post-production team, and the rest were American. The film was directed by Víctor García (Spain) and stars Peter Facinelli (U.S.), best known for his role in the blockbuster saga “Twilight,” Sophia Myles (U.K.), and Natalia Ramos (Spain). Gallows Hill also features a local cast including Carolina Guerra, Gustavo Angarita, Julieta Salazar, Sebastián Martinez, and Juan Pablo Gamboa.

Higgins says, “As a producer you’re always looking for something to make your film unique: locations, special effects, casting, etc. For this production, that special touch came particularly from the language barrier between the characters. In the story there’s a scene where if they had spoken the same language the conflict would have ended, but since they didn’t, the plot continues and intensifies.”

About the fact that the story was filmed in Colombia, Facinelli states that “when I read the script I was really excited to come to this country. In Bogota, I found a passionate team that responded quickly to the needs of the shoot. The relationship created with this team was unique.” Gallows Hill, which premiered in Colombia on June 20, is yet another example proving that Colombia is a great location for producing all kinds of stories.

See: Making of “Gallows Hill”