ABOVE, DIRECTOR RYAN KATZENBACH IN FRONT OF A PORTION OF A 50% SCALED MODEL OF THE DEFEO HOUSE BUILT FOR PRODUCTION PURPOSES.
SHATTERED HOPES: FAQ

Since we launched the initial Welcome page to amityvillefilm.com, the official website for Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders, we've been receiving a great deal of questions and comments. The queries stem from both the website and the release of several teasers for the film on YouTube. The response, in these initial stages, has been a bit more than we anticipated. Instead of responding to each and every question individually, we've created the FAQ page to address some of the comments we've received. More information will become available about the film in the months to follow. The answers provided on this page are from Ryan Katzenbach, the film's writer, director and producer and have been compiled over the months since the initial release of the website in September 2009. More questions and answers will be posted as necessary. Your questions may be sent via email to info@amityvillefilm.com


Q: I'VE HEARD ABOUT THIS FILM FOR SOME TIME....WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG TO PRODUCE?

RYAN KATZENBACH: When the film commenced, we had a general idea of the story. After all, it was based on Ric Osuna's book, The Night The DeFeos Died and Ric's book had outlined many of the details and questions we wanted to address in the film with regards to the DeFeo murders. The first script, which was completed in the fall of 2005 was a comprehensive blueprint for the reenactment sequences that we felt were key in telling the story. In the spring of 2006, we started with the first interviews of various participants who were involved in the story back in1974. But as we continued to get interviews, the scope of the story continued to change. We felt it was more important to answer the questions than to feel like we were on a specific timeframe, being pushed to produce a finished piece. The end product is an adaptation of Ric Osuna's book, infilled with even more material that supports his original assertions while providing the viewer with, what we hope, will be the most comprehensive volume ever offered on this subject to date.


Q: WILL SHATTERED HOPES GO TO DVD?

RK: The last few emails I have read have all asked this question....will Shattered go to DVD? Ultimately, yes, it will end up on DVD like virtually every movie released eventually does. But we haven't even discussed plans for distribution at this point and as with most movies, DVD is the last release of the distribution plan. We'd like to implement a plan for theatrical release, but there are a lot of factors that go into such execution, including the question of how to release a 4-hour film theatrically. Check back and we'll provide more details as we get closer to a release date.


Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OF A RELEASE DATE?

RK: Fall 2011.


Q: HOW LONG IS SHATTERED HOPES?

RK: As we make our way through post, it appears that Shattered will have a run time of around 4-hours as originally planned. The documentary is divided into two two-hour features. Both segments deal with a different aspect of the DeFeo/Amityville story. Part One focuses on the family and the events that fueled that fateful night in November 1974. Part Two specifically deals with DeFeo's arrest, conviction and the subsequent "Amityville Horror" story.


Q: WHAT WILL SHATTERED HOPES PRESENT IN TERMS OF THE MURDERS?

RK: This is a question everyone seems to want an answer to. Unfortunately, we can't commit an answer at this point other than to say that we think our viewers won't be disappointed by the way the murders are presented. In the film, viewers will have an opportunity to view several different scenarios, and ultimately, it's really up to the viewer to decide what they believe.


Q: IN YOUR TEASERS FOR THE FILM, YOU'VE USED CRIME SCENE PHOTOS. ARE THOSE THE REAL CRIME SCENE PICTURES OR RECREATIONS USING ACTORS?

RK: The still photographs used in the 3:00 Extended Teaser released in October 2009 are the original crime scene photos. While this project has committed the murder reenactments to film, we have absolutely not recreated any still crime scene photos OR documents and have elected to use the real materials from November 1974 wherever referenced. While it was essential to reenact the murder sequences for the film, we felt that the photographs and documents needed to be 100% real and original.


Q: DON'T YOU THINK IT'S IN POOR TASTE FOR YOU TO USE THE CRIME SCENE PHOTOS? DO YOU NOT HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR THE DEFEO FAMILY?


RK: I am truly sick of having these stones cast at us by those who perpetuate lies and profer ghost stories as the truth behind the DeFeo tragedy. This is a truly ignorant comment made by ignorant people. If you're going to state the belief that displaying the pictures is disrespectful, why stop there? Why not call the cops disrespectful for taking the pictures? Was the medical examiner disrespecting a dead family member by conducting an autopsy? Was the judge savaging the memory of the DeFeo family when he allowed the jury to see the photos? Answer in ALL cases: NO. As in all court/murder trials like the DeFeo case, the reason those photos are taken and carefully examined is to figure out WHAT HAPPENED. In the case of this film, we're not going after "shock value." We are trying to demonstrate that we've examined ALL of the photos and as a result, we're presenting certain findings in our film. We also use the photos, though they are horrible to look at, to demonstrate to the viewer exactly how horrible this crime was. Whether you like it or not, this was a terrible, senseless tragedy. To look at the photos is to understand how senseless it was. To those brainiacs who send me emails saying "don't you think you should put a warning on it first?" I respond by saying "DUH. It's a film discussing a case wherein 6 people were murdered, what did you think you were going to see?" It's a mature subject matter. Obviously, the people who send me these emails or make rude comments are not mature enough to handle the content and should probably limit their movie intake to Disney flicks.


Q. WILL THIS WEBSITE EVER PRESENT MORE OF THE CRIME SCENE PHOTOS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS USED IN THE FILM?


RK: Possibly. In the meantime, for those who wish to read more about the case, we recommend Ric Osuna' website at www.amityvillemurders.com. Mr. Osuna has done a great job of creating an online portal for documents and photographs. Our website will be exclusively dedicated to the film.


Q: DOES SHATTERED FOLLOW RIC OSUNA'S BOOK THE NIGHT THE DEFEOS DIED VERY CLOSELY?


RK: It does. In 2006, Katco signed an option agreement to license the documentary rights to Mr. Osuna's book in addition to the feature film rights it already owned. While Mr. Osuna hasn't been an active participant in the production of the documentary, his book is very much at the center of our story. As the writer and producer of the documentary, I found myself constantly testing Ric's very controversial work. Much of Ric's book was based on the testimony of Geraldine Gates and thousands of documents and pages of transcript he had uncovered. I kept pushing the envelope, looking for ways in which Ric Osuna might have been wrong in his assertions within his book. I have to say, I have found none. In many cases, the interviews and additional research I have conducted actually support Ric Osuna's work and the assessment he made back in 2002 that Ronald DeFeo may not have acted alone in the commission of the now infamous DeFeo murders.


Q: ONE OF RIC OSUNA'S CENTRAL CHARACTERS IN HIS BOOK WAS GERALDINE GATES. GATES WAS ALLEGEDLY MARRIED TO RONALD DEFEO PRIOR TO THE MURDERS. SHE HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF CONTROVERSY BY THOSE WHO SAY SHE IS A FRAUD. DOES SHATTERED DEAL WITH GATES' INVOLVEMENT IN THE DEFEO STORY?

RK: Geraldine DeFeo-Gates' story is explored in this documentary. And, understandably, there are those who believe that she is a fraud. But, Geraldine's story is but one part of the film. Regardless of whether Geraldine was there or not, there are facts and issues that outweigh her controversy. To me, those are more interesting than wasting time trying to discredit her. If she says she was married and she had a relationship with DeFeo prior to the murders, who really cares, and who are we to argue it? It's purely ancillary to the crime and the court case and if ten years from now someone proves the woman to be an absolute fraud, it in no way diminishes the merits of our film. The most significant contributions made to the film by Geraldine were in the form of research. The woman knew very finite details with regards to the court case. She was able to point myself, as a producer, and Ric Osuna as the author of the book toward documents and people that were very relevant to the case whom no one ever spoke to before. Personally, I believe Geraldine, and I do believe she was present before the murders transpired. In the course of making this film, I offered Geraldine, on numerous occasions, the chance to meet with those who were, factually, there when I was interviewing them. Not once did she back down from the opportunity to discuss the case with these folks face to face. I felt that this was significant. If Geraldine didn't have the relationship with Ronald DeFeo Jr. that she claims she had, would she be willing to subject herself to the scrutiny of an in-depth conversation with those who were absolutely present when this story transpired? Would she chance not passing a test like this? Afterwards, on camera, in asking each of these people "do you think Geraldine was there?" not one time did an interviewee respond with anything but "oh yes, she is real, she knows way too much." I can only say that if Geraldine is a liar, she is a damn good liar. Even one of Louise DeFeo's girlfriends says that Geraldine is real.


Q: DID YOU RECREATE THE OUTSIDE OF THE AMITYVILLE HOUSE?

RK: Yes. Absolutely. I subscribe to the James Cameron "Titanic" philosophy of film. When Cameron made Titanic back in 1996/1997, he acknowledged that the subject had been done over and over again. He stated, in an interview, that he knew that if he was going to tell the Titanic story, he had to go farther than anyone else before him. I was very impressed with this philosophy and employed it in the making of Shattered Hopes. First, I felt that we had to go way beyond what anyone else had said. Given the fact that we owned the documentary rights to Ric Osuna's book, I didn't feel this would be hard. I felt like we would be the first film to raise the question about whether or not DeFeo acted alone. With each interview we conducted, I knew we were saying something more relevant, more important than any film before us. Secondly, I knew Cameron was referring to visuals, in part, when he discussed 'going futher.' In Cameron's case, he recreated the entire Titanic at 80% scale in Rosarita Beach for his film. In our instance, one-twelve Ocean Avenue was and remains a very central character to the story. As a character, it was as important as Big Ronnie or Butch DeFeo. I felt as a filmmaker that having the house, as it appeared in 1974 was very key in presenting the visual record of what happened and it goes beyond what anyone before us has done. It's factual and accurate.


Q: WILL THIS FILM ALLEGE DAWN DEFEO AS AN ACCOMPLICE TO THE CRIME?

RK: Butch DeFeo has told at least a dozen different versions of the events of that fateful night. Some of them have been downright ridiculous, including his claims that his own mother, Louise DeFeo, was involved. However, the one common thread to all of DeFeo's stories include reference to his sister Dawn being involved. To not investigate Dawn’s alleged involvement would be to ignore a huge facet of the story, so yes, it was examined extensively, along with other versions of the murders.


Q: DOES THE FILM DISCUSS MOB TIES TO THE DEFEO FAMILY?

RK: Yes, it does.


Q: IS THIS A MOVIE OR A DOCUMENTARY?

RK: This has been a commonly asked question, and there's no clear answer. Shattered, if anything, can be categorized as "experimental." Heavily implementing elements of the traditional documentary, incorporating elements of feature film, it also skews into avant-garde indie filmmaking. The closest adherence to a style would be that of "docudrama" for those desiring to put the film into a category.


Q: IS IT YOUR INTENT TO FREE DEFEO OR TO ACQUIRE A SECOND TRIAL?


RK: My answer to this question is a double-edged sword. I think DeFeo is where he belongs. He made terrible decisions that led to the demise of his entire family. However, overpowering this for me, the American justice system is what this film is really about more than anything. We are assured, in this nation, that we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. That's a Constitutional guarantee, as sure as the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, or freedom of press. In a day and age where our elected officials could care less about our Constitutional assurances, and vote daily to rescind them, this is a film that is timely and important. What I believe, or what you believe is secondary to the process. Should DeFeo get another trial? From a moralistic standpoint, no. Absolutely not. From a judicial standpoint, applying the principals of our Constitution.......well...you'll have to decide for yourself.

The True Story of the Amityville Murders

 

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<html>Amityville Horror DeFeo murders Ronald DeFeo Butch DeFeo Louise DeFeo Ron DeFeo Ron DeFoe Amittyville Ryan Katzenbach Geraldine DeFeo Ric Osuna The Night The DeFeos Died Amityville Possession demons murder George Lutz Kathy Lutz Kathleen Lutz Amityville Horror truth documentary shattered hopes the true story of the amityville murders .35 marlin rifle dutch colonial house 112 ocean avenue 108 ocean avenue november 14 november 13 november 12 1974 jury trial judge thomas stark suffolk county police