In late September 2010, the DeFeo house half-scale model begins to take shape.
112OCEAN

The DeFeo's beautiful home at 112 Ocean Avenue is as much of a character in the Amityville story as the DeFeos themselves.

"The house is what people really want to see," says Ryan Katzenbach. "Knowing that the house has become a prominent part of the story, we knew we had to have a representation of the house. But, we didn't want to replicate the 'movie' house, we wanted to recreate what the DeFeo house really looked like during the time the DeFeos actually owned it," he explains. "So, working from photos and original diagrams and such, we were able to formulate a scale and then draw diagrams of how we would build the model, and finally, in September of 2010, it began to come together."

In 2007, KatcoMedia constructed one side of the house in full scale. When it was finished, it was put aside in storage until such time that it would be used.

"We had anticipated using the facade of the house dead last as our last shoot because of the logistics that were required to erect it, light it, and photograph it, and before this, we had planned to use the half-scale model for the visual effects shoots."

LEFT, Detail of the full size sunporch that was built for filming pictured with the High Hopes sign recreation.

The full size facade was nixed when the model of the DeFeo house was complete. "The problem with the full sized facade is that it limited us and we really had very little movement because if you went too far one way or the other, you gave away the fact that there wasn't a whole house. The model, however, was a different story. Here we had the full house and we could move any way we wanted and it turned out perfect," says Katzenbach, "so we literally just decided against erecting the full size facade and converted our shots to either green screen against the model, or live action wherever possible directly in front. I feel that the footage turned out very well, and I hope it will give our audience the thrill of experiencing the story with the story's most well known character, 112 Ocean Avenue."

The full size facade and the half-scale model were built by Ryan Katzenbach and his father Ron Katzenbach and brother Jared. The model took from September to January to complete, with the crew losing nearly two months between November and January due to some wild California winter weather.

RIGHT, Ron Katzenbach constructing trusses for the Amityville model.

The house, says Katzenbach, presented challenges in a lot of ways. "It took a long time to build because unlike building a full size house wherein you just buy everything you need, this was a bit different in that you can't just buy half-scale stuff. One of the most difficult things to construct by hand were the double-hung windows and their shutters....those were a nightmare and they took me forever to get done," says Katzenbach.

Once the house was complete, visual effects shots of the house were taken from every angle imaginable.

"We shot sunrise, we shot sunset, we did dead of night, we did fog, we did rain, and we wanted to make sure that we had the house from every concievable angle so that wherever a clip was needed, we'd be sure to have it, and I think we shot about 20 tapes of footage of the house in various frame rates, shutter speeds.....basically we knew we had one shot before this thing was knocked down."

LEFT, Working in the fog during a dry weekend in December 2010. The DeFeo model was finally taking shape.

Visual effects of the model wrapped in early March 2011.

"The house represented a lot of challenge, but also a lot of fun. I got a lot of time to work with my father and brother, so that was fun, and it was also a refreshing change of pace figuring out 'hey, we need this effect, how do we paint or construct that to look real?' So, it was a lot of fun and I think it really makes for a very cool representation of the house and helps tell the story of what life was like at 112 Ocean Avenue for the DeFeos," says Ryan Katzenbach.

 

 

Above, March 2011. The half-scale model of the DeFeo house complete after all visual effects had wrapped.

 

 

 

The True Story of the Amityville Murders

 

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