The idea for a new movie can come from a myriad of sources – newspaper articles, best selling novels, comic books, even old television series. Rarely do they come from experiences that occur at the foot of your own bed. But that’s exactly what inspired Producer, David Oman, who helped his father build a home a few doors down from the former Sharon Tate mansion and the site of the infamous murder spree that took place in Beverly Hills in 1969.
Oman was living in the house in July 2004 when, a little before 2:00 a.m. in the morning, he was awoken out of a sound sleep by a full body apparition, what appeared to be the ghost of late hairstylist, Jay Sebring. “He was dressed in a powder blue leisure suit and his left hand was extending and pointing towards the driveway which leads to the murder site,” says Oman. “There was no sound, he gestured three times and then he just disappeared. ”
This wasn’t the first time Oman became aware of paranormal phenomenon in his own home. “I felt like I wasn’t alone,” he explains. “Late at night, there always seemed to be a presence in the house, an unsettled presence.”
Oman decided to investigate a little further. He was obviously aware of what happened at the “house at the end of the drive,” but it was never a big deal for either him or his father, a prominent Beverly Hills real estate entrepreneur. After all, the horrible murders of 1969 took place over 45 years ago. The wheel of time was marching on. The Sharon Tate mansion itself had been torn down in the mid 1990s and a new house was being built on the scenic property in Beverly Hills.
During construction, Oman learned that one of his own laborers had experienced a bizarre event (an event that was recreated for the movie). He related hearing voices and footsteps from the top floor when he was down on the third level. He thought it was David or his father and so he went to see who it was. When he went upstairs there was no one there. Oman also spoke to one of his neighbors who claimed that a previous owner had seen the ghosts of other victims, including Tate herself.
It was at this time that Oman considered putting together a documentary on the property. Ironically, it was an article he read in the Los Angeles Times about a botched promotional stunt for M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 horror/thriller “The Village,” that encouraged him to proceed with his own project. Cashing in on the reality craze, the Sci Fi channel had produced a four-hour faux mockumentary for “The Village” that was later exposed by CBS (the network had just purchased Universal and the Sci Fi Channel and they were nervous about the whole concept of the mockumentary, which hinted that Shyamalan had supernatural powers).
Meanwhile, Oman invited a group of psychics and paranormal investigators into the house. On a number of occasions, including the anniversary of the August 8, 1969 massacre, video footage was gathered and photographs were taken that featured strange, inexplicable phenomena – unusual orbs, shadowy images, streaking light patterns, the type of photos ghost hunters and paranormal specialists salivate over.
What were these images and just how haunted was David’s home? Oman determined to do additional research, becoming an expert on the infamous events of summer 1969. He received some cooperation from archivists at the LAPD, but further research was hampered by red tape, problems that could easily sink a documentary.
It was then that Oman remembered some thoughts he had back in 2003, images that he originally dismissed as just errant dreams, but now seemed to be guiding him towards telling a terrific story. The story wouldn’t be about Tate at all – it would be a fictional story – a film about of four people from our present day who travel back in time and eventually become the victims of a horrible massacre at a “house at the end of the drive.”
Oman had no feature film producing experience, but his dying mother was very encouraging. She saw a great opportunity for her son, and being the terrific businesswoman she was, she made it possible for him to secure the loan that would finance “House at the End of the Drive.”
Oman’s first move was to develop a screenplay based on his experiences living on the private driveway where the infamous murders took place combined with his own creative fictional storyline. He contacted Jim Vines, his old high school friend, who had carved a niche as a screenwriter, with a film already to his credit (“The Perfect Tenant”). Vines took Oman’s basic storyline and wrote out a shooting draft. Incidents that happened to Oman in the house now became incidents in the life of new home owner David King (James Oliver). Director David Worth (“Kickboxer”) was brought on board, along with veteran producer and former Viacom production chief, Paul Mason (“The Amityville Horror” – 2005).
Stealing a page out of the Roger Corman playbook, the entire film was shot in twelve days on real locations in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air.
Dr. Barry Taff, one of the world’s leading para-psychologists, visited David’s house during shooting and reviewed some of the photographic evidence from 2004. He was riveted. “I’ve investigated over 4000 cases of paranormal activity,” says Taff, whose true life story became the 1981 film, The Entity, “and I can tell you for certain that these photographic images are real. I don’t know what’s going on at that house, but I’m eager to set up a formal investigation, with all the right equipment.” At press time, that investigation was set for the 36thAnniversary of the murders.
Oman is convinced that the story presented as fiction in “House at the End of the Drive” is anchored in bloody historical fact. Says Oman,”This whole neighborhood has a dark history. At the end of the 19th Century, there were some celebrated battles between natives of the Tongva tribe and U.S. Cavalry troops stationed near downtown Los Angeles. And long before Sharon Tate leased her property, the home was owned by Cary Grant, who was known for legendary parties at that time. And Grant was a great experimenter – so some strange things were always going on at that house.”
As “House at the End of the Drive” heads into post-production, one thing is certain, the factual underpinnings of the story are going to be fully-investigated by qualified scientists who will be able to tell us whether David Oman’s house is truly haunted by the restless spirits of 1969. If they are, this could be the beginning of a modern folk legend.
For those of you whose interest has been piqued by this upcoming film already, we have included some of the exclusive photos containing unusual orbs, shadowy images and streaking light patterns for you to view. As mentioned in the text above, these photos are not part of a hoax. They have not been altered in any way other than resized for the Web. They are inexplicable manifestations. Have a look for yourself in our Real Ghosts Page.
To learn more about this film, please visit www.dewittmurders.com for complete information.