The beaches and waters of the Outer Banks provide obvious settings and abundant material for local filmmakers. Raymond Wallace, however, often looks elsewhere — into the woods and swamps and deserted locations that generate fear, and into the creepy recesses of the human mind.
Wallace has begun to assemble a recognized and well-received filmography. The genial, 35-year-old Manteo resident has a simple explanation for why he skews toward suspense and horror filmmaking.
“I think it’s fun,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with surf movies, but there’s just so much more that we can explore here and so many tales that are worth sharing.”
Wallace’s 2017 film, “Lost in Buffalo City,” tells the story of a reporter who explores a series of strange occurrences around the inland area that used to be Buffalo City and encounters evil forces.
It earned a slew of awards, among them: Best Horror-Sci-Fi Narrative Short at the Longleaf Film Festival in Raleigh; Best Overall “Foreign” Featurette and Best “Foreign” Feature/Featurette in Horror/Thriller/Suspense at the Fort Worth (TX) Indie Film Showcase; Best Actor and Best Cinematography at the Independent Horror Movie Awards; Best Horror Film at the Jerome (AZ) Indie Film and Music Fest; Best Horror Film at the Asheville Film Fest; the Bradford Audience Award at the Beyond the Film Festival in Cary.
“Basically, any award we get, I’m always surprised about,” he says, only partly in jest. “It definitely strengthened the idea that I really can do this, which has prompted me to put up funds to keep making films.”
Wallace has two other films due out in the coming weeks: “Boy!” is a story about a man cursed to be an errand runner for an evil spirit, but it’s unclear whether his torment is real or imagined; and “Night of the Fluffet,” a horror tale about a girl who visits her grandparents and brings a stuffed animal that turns out to be something other than cuddly.
“Raymond has a wonderful eye,” says frequent collaborator Stuart Parks, archivist at the Outer Banks History Center and veteran of local theater. “He really does add a whole visual mix to the shooting of a movie. His concepts for the way it should look, I think are remarkable.”
Wallace was raised on a steady diet of X-Files and Twilight Zone reruns growing up near Lynchburg, Virginia, where he and his friends made short films with a camcorder, starting in middle school.
He eventually studied video production at a small college in Maine, then returned to Lynchburg, where he worked at the local ABC affiliate and later at Randolph College.
Wallace relocated to the Outer Banks in 2015, when he took a job as video producer for Dare County government. He films things such as public service announcements, Bonner Bridge construction updates, Board of Commissioners meetings and SPCA videos. He also shoots weddings and corporate and commercial spots on the side under his company, Rayolight Productions, which help finance his passion for original filmmaking.
Wallace doesn’t consider himself a horror movie devotee and has little use for slasher films or what he calls “torture porn.” His filmmaking heroes are Stephen Spielberg, George Romero and Peter Jackson.
“Lost in Buffalo City” he says was his attempt at a Twilight Zone episode. He works tirelessly and is exacting to the point of obsession, but remains inclusive with cast and crew – all of whom are local on his projects.
“He’s diligent and works hard on everything he does,” Parks says, “but he’s also open to suggestion. No one person has all the good ideas, and he firmly believes that.”
Wallace’s films thus far have been short, but he aims to shoot feature-length projects. He believes the Outer Banks to be an untapped resource for storytelling, for its variety of settings, its rich history and its talented residents.
He hopes to showcase the area as a viable filmmaking destination that could attract business and boost the local economy, particularly during the offseason.
If he can do so while taking viewers through a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind, so much the better.