Rick L. Winters is the kind of guy who knows how to create a cult following—starting with this profile, which he purchased through the Strangercrombie holiday gift auction. At the wrap party in Georgetown for his horror feature The Evading, the air was humming with drunken conversation: Rumors about the writer/director/producer abounded, but there was no sign of the man himself. "He's like a machine—he does not stop until he gets the job done," said one of two executive producers. "He's sick and disturbed," his makeup designer giggled, as she described the meat-filled hole she had created to look like a bullet wound. Everyone at the party had heard about Winters's military service—the words "respect" and "leadership" were frequently uttered—but the details were fuzzy. "Both he and the star, Eric Stevens, speak German," observed Eric's co-star, a pretty blonde named Brittany Quist. "They were constantly speaking German on the set."
Winters is reserved, with intense eyes and a gray ponytail hidden by the same beige "Lucky 13" baseball cap that he wore habitually on the set. He confirms the military rumor, which in turn explains the German rumor—while in the army he was stationed in Frankfurt and Darmstadt. "I learned a lot of discipline in the military," he says. "There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians, but it taught me to lead." He moved to Seattle on a whim in 2000, and though Winters had no previous experience in filmmaking, he woke up one morning convinced he had to make movies.
Five years and five films later, The Evading was shot on a tight, weekends-only schedule with a cast of 120 and a crew of 22. Winters is now submitting the movie to festivals. The narrative is anecdotal rather than strictly chronological, and the lead characters, who are members of a group resisting a nebulous enemy, range from a shy little girl to a hardened professional hit man. The production stuck to all Seattle-area locations, including Doc Maynard's in Pioneer Square and an older house in Capitol Hill with dark moldings and an almost gothic feel. There's enough gore in The Evading to satisfy the most hardcore horror fanatic—40 people die in the course of the film—but the movie has a psychological dimension too, touching on heroin addiction and the behavior of individuals in cults. For most of the movie, it isn't clear how much of the threat resides outside the resistance movement and how much comes from within.
Winters had ingenious ideas during the filming of The Evading—scenes that he wanted to feel particularly creepy, for example, were shot backward and only reversed in post-production—but perhaps his most unusual talents lie in planting the seeds for a cult sensation. There are secret anagrams and numerological clues throughout The Evading, which will, when typed into the official webpage, allow access to successively more elaborate levels of the site. And apart from two actors, no one knows the surprise ending of the film.