For Eric D. Howell, getting to direct Voice from the Stone has been a journey years in the making.
The Minnesota native has worked his way up in the business, getting his start as a crewmember in Saint Paul on films such as The Mighty Ducks and Mallrats and working lighting for fellow Minnesotan Prince.
"I didn't know enough to be intimidated by him. He kept asking me back," Howell says with a laugh of his younger days working with the late music icon.
Now, the filmmaker is poised to release his feature directorial debut, with Voice from the Stone opening later this month. The film stars Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke, who plays a nurse in the 1950s determined to help a young boy speak again after the death of his mother. But when she arrives at the castle in Tuscany where he lives, things take a frightening turn. (For a taste, Heat Vision is debuting an exclusive clip at the top of the post.)
Howell's work with Voice from the Stone, an adaptation of an Italian novel by Silvio Raffo, began after a short film he directed lost at a film festival (he won't say which one). A festival jury member was so upset by the loss that he sent the film around to contacts, and it landed in the hands of Anonymous Content's Michael Sugar, who soon became Howell's manager.
"He asked, 'What kind of movies do you want to make?'" Howell recalls. "I pointed to Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition.' "
Just a few years later, Howell had an office to work on Voice from the Stone - and next door was Sam Mendes' office for his 2015 James Bond movie Spectre.
"Not too bad," says Howell.
Though Mendes is a filmmaker he admires, Howell says working on Sam Raimi's 1998 drama A Simple Plan was a turning point for him as a filmmaker. He was doing stuntwork on the film, which starred Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxton, but he had ambitions to direct. Raimi was kind enough to allow the stuntman into the editing room at the end of the day to watch the dailies.
"I learned a lot about being a filmmaker from that," says Howell.
Voice from the Stone opens April 28.